Joshua*, aged 4 was referred to our Every Child a Talker Course by his school. He was in reception class and both the school and his parents were concerned about his speech and language development. He was using only 2 or 3 words at a time and using pointing to indicate what he wanted. His communication skills were well below where a child of his age would have been expected to be. Joshua was released by the school to attend the course during the school day – school attendance for pupils is not compulsory until they are 5 years old but even then they may access specialist support if required during the school day. Joshua’s mum recounts her experience with Welcare.
In the first session I was asked to complete a form about where Joshua was in his development. I felt he interacted quite well with other children and tried to make himself understood using gestures or words, but he wasn’t confident speaking to others and found it hard to make himself understood by others whether by gesture or word. During the 5 week course I took part in the sessions with Joshua, observing him in and writing down what I noticed. I was also given ideas about what to practice at home with Joshua between sessions. During the session, Joshua was encouraged by Welcare’s play worker Hina, to engage in a range of activities and games that would help develop his verbal skills and vocabulary. We discussed Joshua’s interests in order to chose themed activities which would be likely to engage him.
Looking back at my notes on the star chart Welcare provided, I can really see Joshua’s progress during the course:
‘Week 1: Joshua is using max 3 words but does say words and communicates when he needs or wants something.
Week 2: Joshua is being more communicative with less pointing.
Week 3: Joshua is starting to use phrases like “I want ” or “can I have” or “don’t do that”
Week 4: Joshua is becoming much more expressive and is starting to put longer sentences together
Week 5: Joshua is very excited about Christmas and is asking lots of questions about Father Christmas. Joshua is more inquisitive and is asking more and more questions.‘
Following Joshua’s attendance on the course we asked for feed back from his class teacher who said: “we were really impressed with the progress we saw, even following the first session! The course seems very professional and the parents have been thrilled with the support they have been given by Hina. I would really recommend it as a starting point for any child with Speech & Language concerns.”
Hina felt that Joshua would benefit from a further 5 week programme which he started in January. Following completion of the 2nd course Joshua integrated back into class well. Since the course he has been receiving extra support in the class room to help him catch up but has not needed to be referred to a specialist service.
*Please note the name of the child and some circumstances have been changed to protect their identity.
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