Kate Armstrong Pic Blog 1 1

Rediscovering Speech and Language Therapy

Returning to work after a long break can be a truly daunting prospect! However, I am pleased to say that my journey back to Speech and Language Therapy has been made much easier through volunteering at I CAN’s Meath School.

The school is local to where I live and I approached them about taking on a voluntary role to refresh my skills as a Speech and Language Therapist. Since October 2016 I have been lucky enough to work at the school one day a week.  Both the staff and the pupils have been very welcoming! As each class has its own SLT and the environment is adapted to suit the needs of children with communication difficulties, the school has offered me many different opportunities to develop as a professional.

My role at Meath includes planning and delivering regular therapy sessions to a number of children as well as supporting them in both the classroom and at playtime. This has given me the chance to get to know each of them individually and to observe their progress first hand. One of the highlights for me happened just this week,  a child I see for therapy used the Makaton sign for ‘help’ in the playground spontaneously. His communication difficulties mean that he struggles to make his needs known so this was a real step forwards.

My interest in SLT was sparked early on in my childhood when my younger sister had intervention for articulation difficulties. I enjoyed getting involved in her therapy activities which were always a lot of fun! However, it wasn’t until after a degree in French and German that I decided to pursue a career in SLT via a postgraduate diploma.

Through working previously as a paediatric SLT I heard about Meath School and also understood the valuable work I CAN does for children’s communication. My work as an NHS therapist in Ealing was across a number of primary schools, nurseries and a clinic. This gave me a broad range of skills in assessing and treating speech and language difficulties.

Volunteering at Meath has allowed me to build on these skills and to develop others, such as my signing which has improved dramatically! It has also highlighted the changes that have taken place since I left, the most noticeable being the use of new touch screen technology in communication aids. The ‘talkers’,that are used by children throughout the school, make high tech communication so much more motivating and accessible.

The decision to take a career break sometimes seems like a mistake when I think about the 60 days of updating required by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) to return to the profession. But I feel sure that this process is worthwhile as I am returning to a highly rewarding job which I feel passionate about. The invaluable knowledge and skills that I am gaining from my ongoing experience at Meath will stay with me for the rest of my career. I feel privileged to have been given such a unique opportunity to work within such a truly inspirational school.