New SLT services for 2022
Happy new year’s day to you, reader! A new year brings new enthusiasm and space for ideas and plans to come alive.
Reflecting on 2021
This time last year, I decided to use a term that I heard from a workshop on reducing stigma and prejudice in local communities. The term was to work as an ally ‘within your zone of influence’. It can be overwhelming to try to make sweeping societal changes so the concept of using a zone of influence was to identify ways that an individual could make meaningful change by using their experience, knowledge, contacts and influence within their own zone. It helped me think of ways that I, as just one small individual, could try to make some of the changes that I wished to see happen more broadly in society. My hope for 2021 was to spread awareness about the social model for disability approach to stammering, which considers all forms of speech rate and fluency to be legitimate and valuable forms of communication.
A social group for children and teens who stammer
I work with many children and teenagers who stammer who have never met another person who stammers. Stammered speech is very poorly represented in mainstream media and unfortunately, when it is, it is often used for dramatic effect to represent anxiety, nervousness or for a comedic effect. I decided to explore ways for children and teens from around Ireland to meet each other in a social context, not a ‘speech therapy’ group. I have piloted an idea with a small group and I hope to expand this in 2022.
Presenting and professional development
My other plans for 2021 were to find opportunities to share the perspectives and lived experiences of adults who stammer with other SLT colleagues, so that our therapy is better informed and responsive. I had the opportunity to present at the Stuttering and Cluttering SIG, the Autism SIG and contributed to the Irish Stammering Association webinar on Stammering Pride for ISAD 2021.
2022 – Let’s hear more stammered speech
Now I turn to my ideas and aspirations for 2022. To start with, I am going to participate in Newstalk FM #100daysofwalking and whilst I walk, I will listen to a stammering-related podcast. It is so important that stammered speech is heard. Not only can we gain insights into lived experiences of people who stammer but it also draws variations of fluency into the domain of natural verbal diversity. Just as we can tune into someone speaking with a different volume, a different pitch, a different accent, a different rate – so can we tune into a different rhythm. To all parents, SLTs and anyone connected with a person who stammers, I ask that you take time to listen to speakers who stammer in a podcast, vlog, video. The more we listen, the MORE we listen to what is being said and less of how it is spoken.
New online group SLT for children, teenagers and adults who stammer
My plans for my work as an SLT with Speech Express will be to begin online group sessions. These will be rolling sessions, so that members can come and go but at any one time there could be a new member alongside a long-standing member so that the group becomes a support network, to champion one another and encourage positive change for members to be authentic to themselves as well as confident communicators: saying what they want to say. I will announce a schedule shortly. There will be a group for primary-aged children, a group for teens and a group for adults.
Private speech therapy for stammering/speech sounds
I will continue to offer individual private speech therapy for all ages for speech sound therapy sessions, for unclear speech, delayed speech, lisps (lateral/frontal/dental), dyspraxia, childhood apraxia of speech and phonological disorders.
Here’s to an authentic 2022, just as you are!
Penny Farrell, Senior Speech and Language Therapist (CORU SL018989)