Our visit to Meath School: Reflections from US Speech and Language students
A group of Speech-Language Pathology students from Florida State University spent a month at Meath School as part of their studies. They told us about their experiences at our special school for children with speech, language and communication needs.
Meath School went above and beyond our expectations in every way. As students from the US, we were able to see firsthand how speech and language therapy occurs in the UK.
We gained so much from observing and interacting with the students, and learning from the speech language therapists (SLTs). One of the most unique things our group experienced at Meath was the individualised attention and care the students receive. Each child has speech plans and progress charts specific to their abilities and goals. The therapists are very attentive towards each child’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests and utilise this knowledge to run quick, yet productive sessions. The pupils receive an immense amount of support from all of the staff at the school.
The SLTs also provided our group with an insight into their techniques and research. They told us about the current reading strategies they are using in the school, and we look forward to hearing about the success of this technique. It was clear to us how happy the pupils are, and how much the school has done for them. Both the pupils and the staff radiate so much positivity and pride for their school.
Upon arriving to Meath school, we had a strong understanding for speech/language disorders and communication impairments. The opportunity to discuss with speech language pathologists and engage with the pupils, however, animated the hours we have spent studying from textbooks.
The professionals at Meath were exceptional. From pairing spoken and sign language, to tailoring therapies for specific students, it was evident treatment was integrated across all parts of the day. Between each session, we shared our experiences about innovative classroom activities, dysphagia therapies, electropalatography, and speech techniques. Following our in-class learning, the teachers welcomed us with lunch and shared their teaching methods. We were surprised to learn from one presentation that language and maths skills are interdependent and how the teachers focus on both to develop each. Another teacher presented on Meath’s unique and effective method for teaching literacy through categorising and colour-coding words. These presentations taught us about useful therapies we can incorporate when working with students.
Finally, we appreciated how well the teachers recognised each child for their interests and needs. Some pupils sat in classroom chairs while others rested on bouncy balls and some even reclined on the floor. The classes were separated by speech and language abilities instead of age, so that they were best suited for their learning environments.
The opportunity to visit Meath School has been instrumental to our understanding of the real-world work in our chosen profession. As future speech language pathologists, we will weave the experiences we have learned from Meath into our work as we empower our own students to communicate.
Visit the Meath School website to find out more about I CAN’s specialist school for primary-aged children with speech, language and communication needs.