Author Archives: Laura Holmes

Developing Identity and Talking Mats

Identity (2)

Recently, Associated Prof. Ida Marie Mundt from Denmark completed our Talking Mats licensed trainer course. She has been looking at the theories which underpin Talking Mats and is planning to publish her work. One of the areas she speaks about is Identity.

In this blog, our Talking Mats Associate Rhona Matthews explores the area of Identity:

How do I know who I am? This is learned from actions, behaviour and language firstly with parents and family, then with friends.

For people who have difficulty interacting, this becomes much more difficult. There is a danger that others construct their identity.

A participant on our online training wrote about her experience of doing a Talking Mat for the first time with a girl who uses augmentative communication. She has a severe difficulty expressing her ideas and thoughts.

The topic was leisure activities and the top scale was things I like to do/ don’t like to do. She did this quickly and with no great surprises. The listener felt she didn’t get particularly useful information.

So she repeated the topic but with a different top scale. Things I am good at/Things I’m not good at.

Not surprisingly there was overlap with the earlier attempt. i.e. the things she felt good at, she liked which included horse riding.

Again the listener felt there was more conversation to be had! The thinker coped easily with another change of top scale which was things I want to get better / don’t want to get better at.

This time when the option of horse riding was handed over, the thinker became very animated, nodding in agreement. Not only did she want to improve her horse riding skills but wanted to learn about looking after horses. Her family had no idea that actually she didn’t just like riding but saw herself as a rider. This was part of her identity.

Horse in stable  Rider

As Assoc. Prof. Ida says, Talking Mats offers a possibility to talk about who you are, and get other peoples’ responses.

If you are interested in accessing Talking Mats training we offer a variety of options, including online – check these out here:  https://www.talkingmats.com/training/

 

 

Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool

thinking

Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool

In the first of a series of blogs showcasing some of the fantastic presentations delivered during our Talking Mats is 21 event on 15th August 2019, our OT Associate Rachel Woolcomb shares her thoughts on thinking – and how Talking Mats can help:

Recently I have been giving some thought to the process of thinking!

Is thinking just a matter of the neural pathways in our brains manipulating information about ourselves and the world, to create an output or action? or is it more than that?

Can we overthink? Is being spontaneous under thinking? What about creative thinking?

At the Talking Mats is 21 celebrations I explored this subject and looked at how Talking Mats can be used effectively as a tool to support thinking.

My presentation – Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool – looked at the mechanics of thinking, and started to explore how as humans we don’t just learn facts but begin to understand and make sense of them within the context of our culture and environment.

Thinking is effortful and depending on the subject we need to think about can be complicated and demanding.

Using a Talking Mat creates the space to think, it helps to reduce other distractions and provides a structure for thinking. This means that the process of thinking becomes energy efficient as a Talking Mat enables the thinker to organise their thoughts and make connections that otherwise might not be identified or explored. The images used in the topic sets help with memory recall and are designed to expand a subject. This reduces the reliance on language and the need to express what we are thinking verbally.

The Talking Mat forms a visual picture of our thinking which is helpful for reflection and further exploration of the subject.

The final few slides in my presentation contain some quotes from occupational therapists who have used Talking Mats within their supervision sessions to enable them to think about their coping skills and strategies whist at work. I will soon be sharing a resource document on the use of Talking Mats as a reflective space for clinicians.

For further details about our Talking Mats is 21 event and presentations check out our recent blog – https://www.talkingmats.com/amazing-talking-mats-is-21-day/ 

 

If you are interested in accessing Talking Mats training, follow this link for more details of the options we can offer –  https://www.talkingmats.com/training/

 

Watch this space for more information from the presentations delivered at our #TMis21 Event!

Supporting Children to Understand Hospital Procedures

Video blog 3

Many thanks to Marit Boot, founder of the charity What? Why? Children in Hospital for this guest blog sharing information about the fantastic family-friendly videos they make to help children understand hospital procedures.

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As a mum, I know the worry when your child is ill and needs tests in hospital. It’s the not knowing what is wrong, understanding all the different tests and how to explain them to your child. That’s why I founded the What? Why? Children in Hospital charity to make family-friendly videos about hospital. So when we make a new video explaining a procedure in an easy to understand way, it’s the reaction from parents that makes it worthwhile. The relief, that they now have an idea of what will happen and that they can share the video with their child, it makes their preparation much easier. I want to share with you the story of one of the mums in our latest video. Louise talked to us about Rocco’s gastrostomy feeding tube operation.

“We didn’t have anything like the videos WWCIH make when Rocco first had the gastrostomy surgery. Being a parent in that position is daunting. You want to do what’s right for your child but there’s so much to take in. It isn’t always easy to remember what you’re told in the doctor’s office. So when we had the opportunity to help other worried parents and children by making this video, we jumped at it.”

Thousands of children go through a gastrostomy procedure in Scotland every year. It’s a major procedure and can be a complex idea to communicate to children and anxious parents. In the videos, medical specialists talk through how a gastrostomy feeding tube works, how the procedure is done and how parents should look after the feeding tube at home.

Video blog 1

 The videos are absolutely fantastic! With 32 doctors, nurses and specialists helping to deal with my son’s complex needs, it can be overwhelming to take in information they give to us. These videos are amazing for parents to find out information when they’re ready to absorb it. Even if that’s when you finally get to sit down at 2am.Gastrostomy is major surgery and we had to weigh the risks against the benefits for Rocco’s life. There was so much to take in, about the operation, the aftercare. At one point the doctor used a teddy to show how the tube worked – it was useful but didn’t give the full picture. The videos What? Why? have made cover what you need to know in a calm, thoughtful way. They will be a huge help to worried parents and will help them explain to their child what will happen and why. They should make as many videos as possible!”

 We have 55 videos on our YouTube channel about tests such as MRI, CT, ECG, ultrasounds, allergy tests, breathing tests and sleep studies and we are always making new ones. They’re made in partnership with children’s hospitals in Scotland and are suitable for school-aged children, children with learning difficulties and autism as well as parents and carers from all cultural backgrounds and literacy levels. The videos have already been viewed by 2.8 million families across the world.

If you know a parent or carer who’s worried about their child going to hospital send them to our YouTube page (WWCIH charity), Facebook page (@wwcih) or our website: www.wwcih.org.uk

And if there’s a procedure you think we should look at next, get in touch! We’re here to help children and parents just like you!

info@wwcih.org.uk

Marit Boot, Founder What? Why? Children in Hospital, July 2019

 

Talking Mats at the “aphasia days” in Germany

German flag

Talking Mats is now used in many countries all over the world.  As part of our #TMis21 blog series, we wanted to share this great example of Talking Mats being used in Germany.

In March 2019 Prof. Dr. Norina Lauer (OTH Regensburg) and Elena Maxheimer held a lecture and a workshop about Talking Mats at the “aphasia days” in Wuerzburg, Germany.  Many thanks to Norina and Elena for sharing information about the “aphasia days” for this blog post.

The “aphasia days” are a large congress – unique in Europe – for people with aphasia, family members and speech and language therapists (SLT). Every year around 600 people from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary are coming to this event. There are talks, workshops and podium discussions held by participants with aphasia, family members or SLTs. In front of approx. 150 listeners Norina and Elena gave a lecture about Talking Mats and the results of Elena’s bachelor thesis, in which she worked with people with aphasia, who learned to use Talking Mats.

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In a three-hour workshop at the “aphasia-days” Norina and Elena taught nine people with moderate to severe aphasia how to use Talking Mats. All persons brought their own tablets and logged into their own account. They where shown how to choose a topic and a top scale and practiced in teams of two. All of them conducted several sessions with different topics and switched partners a couple of times. They had a lot of fun talking about things that matter to them and learn more about their peers. At the end of the workshop they were able to use Talking Mats themselves and are going to use it with their relatives and friends at home. As the workshop was very well received by the participants, it is likely to be repeated at the next “aphasia days” 2020.

german app in action

If you would like to find out more information about Talking Mats in Germany, and the Digital Talking Mats app which is now available in German, check out https://www.talkingmats.com/talking-mats-in-germany/  and https://www.talkingmats.com/german-digital-talking-mats-with-people-with-aphasia/

 

Our Talking Mats is 21 Event is in Stirling on Thursday 15th August 2019.  Thanks to funding from NHS Forth Valley endowment committee the event is free but you do need to book your space https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talking-mats-is-21-tickets-62362171935

21st save the date

You can come to the morning only, afternoon only or come for the whole day.

If you can’t come to our event watch out for out blogs and social media celebrating the reach of Talking Mats for 21 days before the 15th of August.  Please join in with your contributions using the hashtag #TMis21. For 21 days after our event we will be having a special Birthday offer! Watch this space, more to follow …….

 

Thinking Ahead – How Talking Mats can support Difficult Conversations

chatting

Rachel Woolcomb, our Talking Mats OT Associate, shares a recent personal experience where she used Talking Mats to support a difficult conversation:

The vision of Talking Mats is to improve the lives of people with communications difficulties. I have been reflecting recently on the definition of ‘communication difficulties.’

When I first heard about, and started to use Talking Mats 10 years ago, my perception was that it was fantastic for those that could not speak but I must admit I didn’t really consider using it with people who, such as myself, could use their voice to communicate.

Over the years as my understanding has developed, and I have looked further into the use of Talking Mats as a ‘thinking tool’ I have come to a different conclusion.

I would like to suggest that at some points in our lives, each one of us is likely to experience a communication difficulty. I don’t mean that we cannot physically speak, but that we cannot express what we really want to say in words. Perhaps a topic is too difficult to talk about with someone so we don’t bother, or we are overwhelmed by the subject that we don’t really know where to start.

One such subject is that of death and dying.

We know it will happen to us all one day but to talk openly with loved ones, is for some reason, too much to comprehend, too emotive, or considered bleak.

I am very fortunate enough to have grandparents in their 90’s however the conversation about their wishes for the future goes unspoken. It is a challenge for my parents to raise the issue therefore it remains the big unknown.

This is a common problem. In 2009, The National Council for Palliative Care wanted to address this issue and set up the Dying Matters Coalition in England and Wales, to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement and to make plans for the end of life.

Talking Mats have produced a set of topic cards called ‘Thinking Ahead.’ https://www.talkingmats.com/product/thinking-ahead/

These were created in consultation with Strathcarron hospice to help people with advanced illness or long term conditions to think ahead and plan for the future. The three topics in the set are: Affairs, Care and Treatment and Personal Values.

My Mum was interested in my role with Talking Mats and wanted to understand what it was all about. We had already started to talk about the challenges of having difficult conversations, especially about death, and therefore over a drink, in a relaxed coffee shop, we embarked on a journey of discovery using a Talking Mat. My Mum as the Thinker and myself as the Listener .

Rachel cafe photo

She used the Talking Mat to help her think about things she had not considered and was able to make plans about what she wanted to do next. I heard her wishes and her thoughts, on why certain things were important to her. It was a very special time, facilitated by a Talking Mat.

My challenge to you as readers of this blog is to ask yourself ‘what do I have difficulty talking about’ – A Talking Mat just might be the answer!

Another resource you might find helpful is ‘Let’s Talk about Death and Dying’ –  www.ageuk.org.uk

Rachel will be running a ‘Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool’ workshop at our Talking Mats is 21 Event is in Stirling on Thursday 15th August 2019. Dr Sally Boa from Strathcarron Hospice will also be running a ‘Talking Mats in End of Life Care’ workshop at this event. Thanks to funding from NHS Forth Valley endowment committee the event is free but you do need to book your space https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talking-mats-is-21-tickets-62362171935

21st save the date

You can come to the morning only, afternoon only or come for the whole day.

If you can’t come to our event watch out for out blogs and social media celebrating the reach of Talking Mats for 21 days before the 15th of August.  Please join in with your contributions using the hashtag #TMis21. For 21 days after our event we will be having a special Birthday offer! Watch this space, more to follow …….