Autumn 2006

Articles from the Autumn 2006 Issue

Listen and learn

McCollum, D. (2006)

The Listening Program used with a 7 year old boy with autism.

Donna McCollum believes that most children with autism spectrum disorder show some form of auditory processing disorder, so auditory stimulation should be considered as part of such an individual’s treatment plan. The Listening Program (a ‘Music-Based Auditory Stimulation method’) offers one option. Donna – now a Certified Provider – describes how her initial scepticism turned to interest. Background information about The Listening Program is followed by case story featuring Aodhan, a 7 year old boy with autism. Although he had made good progress with speech and language therapy and occupation therapy, by 6 years he still found it difficult to remain focused on (particularly auditory) tasks and had some abnormal responses to sensory input. The Listening Program was introduced with no other therapy. Improvements are described in a range of areas such as self-regulation, ability to concentrate and reduced hypersensitivity to noise.

Intelligibility: what’s the score?

Vigouroux, J. & Miller, N. (2006)

Do we know enough about intelligibility tests for people with dysarthria to use them effectively?

Charting changes in intelligibility is an intergral part of clinical work, particularly for clients who have dysarthria. A diagnostic intelligibility test involves listening to the client reading randomly selected (near) minimally differing sets of words. Scoring is either open format (listeners write what they think they heard) or closed format (listeners are given a list to choose from). Jennifer Vigouroux and Nick Miller question the assumption that both assessment formats are “equally reliable and applicable methods of evaluation”. Their study of 27 people with Parkinson’s disease of varying severity sought to compare the different scoring methods, different types of listeners, and structured versus more spontaneous speech. They conclude that methods of scoring and the type of listener must be consistent across time to measure change, and that closed format scoring is more appropriate for severely affected speakers with open format more sensitive for the mildly affected.

Discourse – on course?

Armstrong, L., Beeke, S., Bloch, S., Body, R., Brady, M., Code, C., Davidson, C., Herbert, R., Horton, S., Mackenzie, C., Niven, C. & Perkins, M. (2006)

An expert discussion of quantitative and qualitative approaches to analysis of a communicative interaction (ref. aphasia / adult acquired disorders).

In late 2004 the Stirling Discourse Colloquium considered current and future approaches to the analysis and treatment of disordered communication interaction, with particular reference to aphasia and other adult acquired disorders. This article arose from a wide-ranging discussion among the main participants including the impact of learning styles, evidence, therapist-client talk, context, time and ownership. They view quantitative and qualitative approaches to analysis as opposite ends of a continuum and suggest the approach adopted by the clinician should:

  1. provide information about what is important within the communicative interaction
  2. aid diagnosis
  3. inform effective therapy
  4. measure change over time.

The discussants argue that the profession needs to pay more attention to considering the circumstances of success stories. They also foresee the evolution of the continuum towards a single analysis methodology that combines the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Succession planning

Nicoll, A. (2006)

Ensuring the next generation of speech and language therapists are the right people to take the profession forward.

Editor Avril Nicoll asks what we can do to ensure the next generation of speech and language therapists are the right people to take the profession forward. Suggestions include offering hands-on time / work experience placements, videos, open days and careers talks, paying undergraduate students for visiting schools to talk about their chosen profession and raising awareness through talking about what we do. The background to the book ‘A Career in Speech and Language Therapy’ is explored and prospective students are encouraged to gain as much experience and information as possible through voluntary / paid work, reading and personal contact with therapists. Interviewees are Jane Rawlings, Clare Grennan, Samera Mian, Myra Kersner, Andrew Lawtie, Catherine Mackenzie and Lindsey Kent.

More Power to you

McBarnet, E. (2006)

Using PowerPoint for assessment and therapy activities.

Elizabeth McBarnet explains how she uses the Microsoft Corporation’s PowerPoint software to bring a phonology assessment and therapy activities to life. Programmes can be burned onto a CD for clients to use at home if they have suitable equipment.

Conference calls: “Integrity is the key”

Nicoll, A. (2006)

Reflections on key themes from the RCSLT conference ‘Realising the vision’.

The 5th Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists conference ‘Realising the vision’ ran from 10-12 May 2006 at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown. There were 5 keynote addresses, 16 parallel sessions and 66 poster presentations. Editor Avril Nicoll reflects on what she felt were the key themes: the context (where we are now); being heard (the impact of a service user’s speech); learning (joint projects between universities and services); the future (user involvement; the ethos of therapy; economic evaluation).

Grey(ish) power

Middlemiss, J. (2006)

Why maturity can be empowering – and something for us all to celebrate.

Life coach Jo Middlemiss has received calls from therapists who have been in the profession for many years and want to stay motivated. She discusses the opportunities and barriers and suggests taking the six basic human needs task into the workplace, and explains why maturity can be empowering and something for us all to celebrate.

How I take services into the community (1): ADULT ACQUIRED Windows of opportunity

Styles, V., Woodward, S. & Davies, A. (2006)

An intensive basic computer skills course for people with aphasia.

Realising the assessment, advice and support offered by their Computer Assessment and Training Service (CATS) was not enough for many clients, and that local courses were not aphasia-friendly, the authors started an intensive group. This targeted basic computer skills such as creating, saving and shutting documents. Motivation was increased by using material of interest to each individual and an aphasia-friendly handbook of instructions was created. Although numbers were small, the project appeared to have benefits. The authors outline the challenges of running such a group.

How I take services into the community (2): ADULTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES liveACTIVE

Goodfellow, J. (2006)

A multidisciplinary-led activity club for adults with learning disabilities in a local sports centre.  

Judy Goodfellow explains the background and development of a multidisciplinary therapy-led activity club for adults with learning disabilities in a local sports centre. Activities on offer include parachute, Jabadao, walking, body awareness, rebound therapy, curling and boccia. The speech and language therapists produce symbolised material (signage; instructions; timetables), run a drop-in Makaton group and offer training to sports centre staff and coaches. A particular success has been the change in attitude from carers who now understand that the process of choice-making is as important as the activity the client chooses.

My Top Resources – Working in Bangladesh

Jensen, A. (2006)

Essential resources for teaching students and offering therapy in Bangladesh. 

At the time of writing Amy Jensen was a volunteer speech and language therapist at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her role included teaching Bangladesh’s first ever speech and language therapy students. Her top resources reflect the challenge of supporting a country to develop a culturally appropriate service.