Afasic Helpline : 8 April 2016 4:37 pm : Helpline Blog
Every year, I draw up a summary of the fantastic feedback we receive about the Afasic Helpline. Parents who’ve used it generally can’t speak too highly of it, and the comments this year have been particularly encouraging. One thing a number of them said is that they didn’t expect much before they rang and were amazed by how much helpful information we were able to give them. In fact parents often tell us on the phone that it isn’t until they ring that they realise how much they didn’t know – and how much they wished they’d called us sooner. Don’t make the same mistake. Call the Afasic Helpline on 0300 666 9410 and make sure you know all you need to know about getting the help your child needs.
Website Editor : 8 March 2016 10:25 am : Helpline Blog
Jo had always felt that her 10 year old daughter Holly (not her real name) had significant difficulties but found it hard to pinpoint what was wrong. This made it very difficult to get anyone else to take her concerns seriously. Holly had some intermittent speech and language therapy when she was younger but it stopped when she was eight. The school were insisting that Holly was fine, but Jo was worried that her learning still lagged behind and her behaviour could be a concern. Fortunately at this point, Jo rang the Afasic Parents’ Helpline.
Unlike some other helplines we do not simply give a straightforward answer to what might appear to be a straightforward question, but always try to dig a bit deeper to make sure we have a full picture of the child before suggesting possible ways forward. We know, for example, that children are often good at ‘masking’ difficulties with understanding language. So if a parent reports that her child ‘understands everything’, we don’t just take this as read, but ask supplementary questions to check whether the parent might have missed something important. In some cases, we spend half an hour or more on the phone with parents, trying to get a handle on their child’s difficulties, before they suddenly mention something, often in passing, that gives us a vital clue for further investigation. This might not even be something obviously related to speech or language but could for instance be a comment like, ‘She won’t eat lumpy food’ or ‘If other children come round, they have to sit in his room watching him play games on the computer’.
In Jo’s case, we spent some time talking to her in order to get a better understanding of Holly’s problems both at school and at home. It quickly became clear that she still had some persisting language difficulties which, in all probability, underlay everything else. So we advised Jo to request an up-to-date speech and language therapy assessment and talk to Holly’s school about providing appropriate support. However, as the school did not appear to have identified Holly’s language difficulties, and the speech and language therapy service had previously discharged her, it was likely that Jo would have to explain in some detail why she felt there was a problem. This meant being able to describe what Holly could and could not say or understand. So we advised Jo to make a list of some of things we had discussed and any other relevant examples ready for when she next met the school or speech and language therapist.
A short time later Jo sent the following feedback to us:
I didn’t know what to expect (from the Helpline) – your advice was much more than I anticipated! I have gone back to the drawing board and with your advice can tackle the issues in hand with the knowledge I will be able to support my child. I cannot thank you enough – so many children continue to slip through the educational net. Hopefully with your advice I can ensure my daughter isn’t another failed statistic. (After) 6 years of being made to feel like a neurotic mother…Thank you
The Helpline lies at the heart of Afasic’s support for parents. Our personal experience and knowledge of speech and language impairments and SEN law enables us to provide the independent and personalised guidance that you need. So, if you’ve been told that, for example, speech and language therapy will stop when your child starts school and (s)he will ‘catch up in his or her own time’ or that (s)he ‘is not bad enough’ for an EHC Plan, it’s worth ringing us to check.
Just ask the parents who, like Jo, are glad they did.
You can get in touch with the Helpline in a number of ways:
- By phone on 0300 666 9410
- By email, using our online query form
- By calling into one of our Drop-In clinics, held in the London office on the first Tuesday of every month between 10.00 am and 1.00 pm
- Through our new online ‘Live Chat’ service due to be launched soon
The Helpline also holds regular Drop-Ins at Centre 404, in Islington. They take place on the first Friday of every month, between 10.00 am and 12.30 pm.
In addition we are happy to come and talk to parents’ groups in the London area about SLCN and how to use your rights under the SEND system to access the help your child needs.
Recently, members of the Afasic Helpline team have made a number of external visits – to Centre 404 in Islington and The Amethyst Foundation in west London. It’s been great to speak to parents in person, have a thorough chat about speech and language difficulties and discuss the issues they’re facing locally. If you live in and around the London area and would like us to come and talk to your local parents’ group, do get in touch; we’d be happy to visit.
In a similar vein, we’ve been thrilled to reach out to new parents at our regular drop-ins held on the first Tuesday of each month in the Afasic office. Do pass the word on to any parents who might find them helpful.
We’re also delighted to say that from the first Friday in March, we will be holding a monthly drop-in at Centre 404. So, if you live in the Islington area, do come along and see us. No question is too silly or small. As with most things, it’s better just to check and make sure you’ve got it right.
We hope to meet more of you soon!
Afasic Helpline : 18 December 2015 3:09 pm : Helpline Blog
Alison, the Afasic Helpline Manager, recently had an interesting conversation with a retired speech and language therapist. She recalled how, in her day, most children with a diagnosis of speech and language impairments went to a language unit where a few years’ intensive help equipped them to continue their education on the same terms as everyone else – and often go on to university. She wondered how we had ended up in the current situation where children with speech and language impairments are struggling to keep their head above water in mainstream and language units seem increasingly to be focusing on children with more complex needs.
This is a good question. We know parents want the best for their children so what is happening? Are the constant reassurances that their child will ‘cope’ simply leading parents to accept that this is as good as it gets? If so, why are they allowing their expectations to be managed in this way?
Great News! The other day, the Afasic Helpline received a call from a parent who was so dissatisfied with the speech and language therapy service locally that she complained – and was immediately offered a meeting to discuss her concerns. This is really what Afasic is all about and it would be great to hear of more parents taking action. We could even post success stories on our website – to show what can be done.