Category Archives: Talking Mats principles

Talking Mats -Mythbusters

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There are a few myths around about Talking Mats. What does it do? – It  supports communication and it doesn’t replace a person’s existing modes of  communication, be that speech, signing, a symbol book, a voice output communication device or app.  Talking Mats works alongside  these modes to help people communicate even more effectively about a particular topic.

Some more myths busted!    Click on the picture to make it clearer.

mythbusters

 

Talking Mats -A Person Centred approach

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Talking Mats is at its heart a Person Centred approach and makes this abstract concept real for practitioners and accessible to more people.

The skills we teach in our training are core to its values:

  • Being explicit about the purpose of the conversation
  • Using open questions
  • Affirmation
  • Active Listening
  • Personalising
  • Summarising
  • Clarification
  • Acknowledging that this is the persons view today and it is likely to change with time

‘ To improve the lives of people with communication difficulties by increasing their capacity to communicate effectively about the things that matter to them’

Our  vision statement  matches what is quoted in the introduction of the new Core Skills framework ‘Person-Centred Approaches’ produced by  NHS Health Education England, Skills for Health and Skills for Care http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/news/latest-news/item/576-new-framework-to-promote-person-centred-approaches-in-healthcare

 

Talking Mats foundation training gives practitioners a tool to turn the values expressed in this powerful document into practice Read how one health authority made this a priority                         http ://www.talkingmats.com/person-centred-approach-to-health-planning

To support your organisation evidence they are using a Person Centred Approach look at our website www.talkingmats.com  or contact info@talkingmats.com

Talking Mats & ASD – developing social communication.

learning

Talking Mats and Autism- Have you sometimes tried it and it didn’t work?

There is a growing interest in teaching TM to people with ASD. We know that some important adaptations might be required to make this a meaningful experience, and are keen to share our learning so far.

Being asked for thoughts or views can be difficult for some people with communication difficulties.  In particular, there is a group of people with autism where some of the core principles of Talking Mats have to be taught in stages.   Some thinkers will just ‘get it’ and find it a valuable tool for sharing their thoughts and for supporting decision making.  For others there may have to be adaptations and /or  specific teaching e.g. the vocabulary of the top scale.  We heard recently of a student in a specialist centre who couldn’t use Talking Mats.  However the staff would include him in groups where it was used and make sure he was around others doing Mats.  After a few years, he did learn the principles and go on to use it effectively.

We have gathered ideas and knowledge from practitioners working in the field of autism and included these on our web-site under Free Stuff on Communication Disability.  ASD guidelines  It’s important that these guidelines grow and adapt as we learn more about using TM with an even wider range of people.

We’ve arranged a twilight session here at Stirling on the 1st of February 2018  to bring together practitioners working in the field of autism to extend our knowledge and encourage a staged approach to effective use of Talking Mats.
We’re delighted that Ruth Chalmers, Principal Teacher for Autism Spectrum Info and Support Team (ASIST) in Fife will be joining us to talk about developing social communication skills using Talking Mats. There will be time for small group chat so bring along a case you want to discuss.
Please share the attached flier 201802 AsD seminar with your network and we hope you can join us

Please come along and   If you are interested in attending this twilight session 4.00pm to 6.00 pm (cost £20.00),  please notify us at info@talkingmats.com

Accessible training in remote locations.


Thanks to Natalie Leader, one of our Accredited Trainers from Hobart, Australia for this blog reflecting on her experience of doing the online Foundation training.

southern tasmania

The beauty of online training is that no matter where you are or what time zone you’re in, there are options. This is really brought to bear when living in a rural or remote area, such as here in Southern Tasmania.No matter how much those of us here in beautiful Tassie brag about what an awesome place it is to visit, there are limits as to which training organisations will provide professional development sessions here, and how often.

I missed an opportunity to attend Talking Mats Foundation training by a few months so registered to do the online training instead.

My experience with the Talking Mats online training platform was that the organisers were responsive and positive, and the content offered variety, with steady monitoring of progress. Amongst the easy navigation and helpful resources you also participate in discussion forums. As one who doesn’t often participate on line, I found them encouraging and helpful, It was also interesting to read people’s descriptions of different ways that Talking Mats can be used.
Doing the modules in sequence (and with some time in between) worked well for me, as I reflected more deeply on the role of the listener and the qualities I needed to foster in my practice, such as observation, pacing and neutrality.Fostering those qualities and being guided by principles such as self-determination is now an ongoing goal for me.

I have now introduced Talking Mats into my practice and have taken the next step of becoming an Accredited Trainer.

Becoming an accredited trainer involved attending a 2-day workshop in Melbourne for face-to-face training and assessment from Lois and Nicki from Talking Mats Ltd, Stirling, Scotland. As if having excellent trainers was not enough, there was the added bonus of a roomful of like-minded practitioners, all sharing their skills and experiences with Talking Mats. Because each person’s work setting was unique, our group had a rich and diverse array of perspectives on implementation of Talking Mats training and techniques.
So, now I’m making preparations for delivering my first training workshop, sharing Talking Mats with my colleagues. I actually don’t have the jitters (except regarding the IT!) And, I’m confident that Talking Mats will speak for itself. Perhaps I may have appeased the IT deities by taking a giant leap from my former self and participating in a blog, so that side of things will run smoothly!

Good luck with the training Natalie!

This month we have online course participants from Singapore, Canada, Ireland and the UK. Register now for our next online training starting on the 5th of September.

 

Assisting vulnerable people to communicate

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Many thanks to Nicola Lewis from London who has sent us this powerful blog. She has 2 roles – one as a Registered Intermediary with adults with learning disabilities and the other as a family mediator working with children.

I started work as an intermediary, assisting vulnerable people to communicate their evidence to the police and in court. I work with adults with a mild to moderate learning disabilities or mental health issues and with children. The Talking Mats tool has proved invaluable, initially as a rapport building exercise which enables me to build a connection with the person. At the same time I can assess their communication in an informal way. I notice that it is often a relief for those who don’t want to talk as they can just engage in moving the pictures around, without having to make eye contact or without having to speak.They do often start chatting, in spite of themselves as there are not many people who don’t like to talk about their likes, dislikes  and preferences and to be heard about what is important to them. I use active listening: reflecting back what they say, summarising, reframing and a touch of humour if appropriate to build a connection, using the mat. When they see me the next time, they often remember me in connection with the Talking Mat:”oh yeah, we did that picture thing!”

 

 I also work as a family mediator and have a specialist qualification enabling me to meet with the children of the family to discuss their wishes and feelings. Again, the Talking Mats tool is the first thing out of my bag and on the table. After working through likes and dislikes in a natural and informal way, I can then use the cards with the children and ask about “your family”, “where you live” etc to find out about how they are managing in a divorce situation and what they might want their parents to know about their feelings. Many mediators will only meet with older children. The Talking Mats tool has given me access to the thoughts of those as young as 5. They are at ease with me and there is a level of trust that did not exist when they entered the room.I have had 100% positive feedback from these meetings as a result.

 

Thanks for developing this amazing tool. It is incredibly useful to me in both my roles.

Please send us any other stories you would like to share