Tag Archives: Young people

Working in the Criminal Justice System? TOP 5 Blogs

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Thanks so much to all the practitioners who have sent us guest blogs about using Talking Mat in a Criminal Justice setting. Here are our top 5 – in no particular order!

1. Supporting Families in the Criminal Justice System: Sally Kedge, Speech and Language Therapist from Trouble Talking New Zealand shares two powerful case examples of using Talking Mats with children and families caught up in the criminal justice system. https://www.talkingmats.com/support-for-prisoners-families-experience-from-new-zealand/

2. Communication Needs within Youth Justice – Part 1: On 17th April 2017, we organised a seminar to look at underlying issues and share good practice when addressing the communication needs of people in youth justice. We had representatives from: the Scottish government, the NHS; Third sector organisations working in youth justice, the police, social workers, professional bodies, universities and social work – from as far afield as New Zealand. The emphasis from the start was that understanding communication is key to improving service delivery. https://www.talkingmats.com/communication-needs-in-youth-justice/

3. Communication Needs within Youth Justice – Part 2: The afternoon session of our seminar on 17.04.17 continued the underlying theme that communication support needs are often hidden and many looked after children have support needs that remain unidentified. The outcome of the day was the establishment of a collaborative network. https://www.talkingmats.com/youth-justice-and-communication-needs-2/

4. Setting up a SLT Service in Prison: This inspiring blog by Jacqui Learoyd explores her role in setting up a speech and language therapy ( SLT )  service in a prison and her use of Talking Mats in that setting https://www.talkingmats.com/setting-up-an-slt-service-in-prison/

5. Has Talking Mats been used in Court? Two registered intermediaries talk about a couple of cases where Talking Mats was used as part of the achieving best evidence (ABE) interviews. https://www.talkingmats.com/talking-mats-used-court/

If you have been inspired and are not yet trained, come along to one of our Foundation training courses – for details see https://www.talkingmats.com/training/foundation-training/

We also offer online training if you are unable to access the training locations – for details see https://www.talkingmats.com/training/online-training/

 

Communication needs within Youth Justice (2)

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On the 17th April we held a seminar exploring  the innovative work being done to support young people with communication needs within justice and mental health settings in both New Zealand and Scotland Read about the morning in our first blog    Talking Trouble, New Zealand kindly gave a gift to all delegates of their fantastic Top Tip cards shown in the photo . You can download your own set here

The afternoon session continued the underlying theme that communication support needs are often hidden and many looked after children have support needs that remain unidentified.

Dr Ann Clark from Queen Margaret University presented her research findings looking at Panel members’ and Children’s Reporters’ perspectives on communication in Hearings.  Her informative presentation highlighted the need and desire for more training on Speech, Language and Communication Needs.  The conclusion was that it is better to assume ALL children who are attending a Hearing have additional support needs, whether or not they have a diagnosis of Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) and Social Work support is also essential in achieving positive outcomes for Looked After Children. SLCN in Hearings April 2018

Our interactive session asked participants to reflect on the information presented during the day and to think about opportunities to improve practice in supporting communication as well as the barriers faced.  The main themes that emerged from the barriers were:

  1. Identifying Speech, Language and Communication Needs in children and young people
  2. Constraints within Speech and Language therapy services
  3. Lack of education and training – the word “communication” because practitioners think they know about it when in fact there is a large knowledge gap
  4. Routes to services can be either Offending or Mental Health pathway
  5. The balance of power and control in relationships between the practitioner and the person with SLCNs – how committed are we to put genuine inclusive communication approaches in place.

Identify the barriers helps to inform the opportunities and the themes emerging were:

  1. Some good collaborative practice is happening already and the impact of working together is proven in research – we need to extend this further.
  2. Joint training sessions – good visual and other communication supports
  3. SLT have a vital role going forward
  4. We have a real opportunity at the moment to effect real change in a legislative context with recent Government policy

Kim Harley Kean, Head of the Royal College of Speech and language therapy Scotland office concluded the day and injected a great sense of impetus going forward. She asked 2 key questions:

Q: Is communication support and equality an issue in justice and care services?

Q: Do we want to do something about that?

Having responded with a unanimous YES she helped us to see the potential we have for change. It was obvious from the day that collaboration is vital and the event demonstrated how many different professions and organisations want to do something about the issues. We can be more effective if we do this collectively, even across continents!

The majority of participants felt we should use the event to establish a collaborative network.  The key purposes would be to:

  1. Market – get message out there – tell more people – politicians, government and public – about Speech Language and Communication in Criminal Justice Settings explaining how SLT and Talking Mats have a vital role.
  2. Share stories, gather evidence.
  3. Facilitate enriching conversations between practitioners, for example, about aptitudes and approaches needed to negotiate communication behaviour change among professionals as well as people with SLCN…

If you would like to join the network and help to influence change please email info@talkingmats.com  with a request to add your name to the youth justice mailing list.

Work with children and young people? TOP 10 TM blogs

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Huge thanks to all the practitioners who have sent us guest blogs. We selected our 10 favourite guest blogs…in no particular order!

  1.  Talking Mats to support children who stammer Kirsten Taylor, Speech and Language Therapist tells a moving story about how finding out what was upsetting a boy with a stammer helped to implement change.
  2. Hearing the voice of the child Emma Atkiss, Senior Educational Psychologist, shares her findings from the Wigan Pathfinder project reporting that using a Talking Mat helps to meet the 5 criteria of Shier’s model of participation.
  3. Talking Mats for capacity assessments in people with ASD/LD Ruth Spilman, Senior SLT from The Cambian Group, shares practical tips on assessing capacity.
  4. Castle hill school supports pupil voice Jenna McCammon, SLT and Rebecca Highton, SLT Assistant, tell 3 inspiring stories using TMs in: selective mutism; safeguarding and motivational interviewing.
  5. Supporting Looked After Children to have their say Karen Wilson, Principal Teacher for children with additional support needs in a mainstream secondary school  shares her experience of using TMs to give young people a stronger voice in making decisions affecting them.
  6. Hearing the voices of Looked After Children Rachel Clemow, Head Teacher and Donna Wood, Education Support Worker, report that Talking Mats has enabled children to express their thoughts and views in a safe, neutral environment.
  7. Talking Mats and Mental Health  Carla Innes, Clinical Psychologist for learning disability from Healthy Young minds Stockport talks about the impact of TM training on the whole team.
  8. Mummy I don’t want to go to nursery today read about how using a Talking Mat might shed some light on why a 4 year old was upset at the thought of going to nursery.
  9. How do you feel about starting school? The story of 4 year old twins and their thoughts about starting school.
  10. Sibling Attitudes Prof Juan Bornman from Pretoria in South Africa publishes a report on a study carried out with 27 typically developing children who have a younger sibling with a severe speech and language disability.

If you have been inspired and are not yet trained to use Talking Mats – come along to one of our training courses.

Hearing the Voices of Looked After Children and Young People


Laura Holmes was pleased to meet up with Rachel Clemow, Head Teacher and Donna Wood, Education Support Worker who work for the Virtual Schools Team in Wigan to find out about the impact of Talking Mats training.
Donna accessed a Talking Mats Training last year delivered by a Talking Mats  accredited Trainer in Wigan Educational Psychology service and quickly put her training into practice with the children that she works with, using the Consulting Children and Young People – Primary resource pack. Other members of the team soon recognised the potential benefits of introducing this approach themselves, and so, in April 2017, a further 15 members of the Virtual Schools Team received Talking Mats training.
Looked After Children can often struggle to express their thoughts and feelings, often as a result of their situation/ circumstances. This can be further compounded if they also present with speech, language and communication difficulties. There is a higher risk of such difficulties within the LAC population (Cross 1999 ).
Often there are many professionals involved with a Looked After Child, all asking a wide variety of questions, some of which can be highly personal and/or emotive in nature. The team have observed that children will sometimes end up giving answers which they think the listener wants to hear, rather than answers which reflect their true feelings/views – or the child may withdraw from the process entirely. Consequently, it can be very difficult to ensure that the true ‘voice of the child’ is being heard. Sometimes the children themselves struggle to understand what their own feelings are – often the topics and questions can be complex and involve abstract concepts.
Rachel and Donna report that the Talking Mats approach has had a big impact on their communication style when working with the children on their caseloads, and has enabled children to express their thoughts and views in a safe, neutral environment. Some of the comments they made about Talking Mats were that it:
– Enables the listener to get to know a child quicker and more easily as there is no pressure/expectation of the ‘thinker’ – it is a child/’thinker’ led approach.
– Provides way of supporting the child to open up to express their views and feelings, even if they have previously been hard to engage – and for the child to develop better insight into their own feelings.
– Helps to avoid the possibility of adult/listener misinterpretation of what the child is trying to communicate.
– Enables the child to focus on pictures – which appears to result in the child being more comfortable in expressing their own views and feelings – as opposed to what the child thinks the listener wants to hear.
– Provides a holistic view of the child – which can support target setting and planning at key stages for that child, for example, transition to High School.
– Gives the child something they can be successful at – there are no ‘wrong’ answers.

Donna shared a great example of how Talking Mats helped a young girl to describe an issue at home which she had not shared with any carers or school staff previously. The child placed the ‘home’ option symbol on the ‘not happy’ section of the mat then began to whisper to Donna explaining the reason why. This resulted in Donna being able to share the information with school staff and social care, consequently, the issue was resolved.
Services, organisations and schools in Wigan are already using the Talking Mats approach as a result of widespread training delivered by our Accredited trainers in the Educational Psychology Team. This provides a great example of how using Talking Mats across agencies can really help a whole area to become more child/ young person led.
The Virtual Schools team are now recommending the Talking Mats approach to other agencies working with the Looked After Children on their caseloads, such as adoption and fostering services.

If want to access the training then there are  Talking Mats foundation  courses run regularly in London, Stirling , Manchester and Newcastle . Once you have attended a foundation training  and gained experience you can apply to become an accredited trainer .

Short stories from our accredited training course in Stirling.

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Five short stories from our recent accredited training course in Stirling.

  1. A looked after child was unhappy but no one knew specifically why. Using the Talking Mats, she indicated that she was upset by the weekly phone call with her mother because it always happened when it was her playing time. The time of the call was moved to just before her bedtime but this resulted in bad dreams. The time of the call was finally moved to Saturday afternoon which helped her settle and reduced her distress.
  2. Talking Mats was used with an Iraqi boy who had come to England via Libya, Italy and the jungle camp at Calais. When he picked the symbol of a waiting room he indicated that despite all she had been through he really liked this because it reminded him of all the children in his family and made him happy.
  3. A 76-year-old man with a learning disability disclosed that he had been attacked and suffocated by his upstairs neighbour one week previously. It was only when he used the Talking Mats that he disclosed to anyone what had happened.
  4. A lecturer usually used quantifying measuring with her students to find out how they were managing their studies. Instead she used Talking Mats to find out how they were coping with their work life balance. One student told her that she was managing fine except that her pet rabbits always escape under the bed and it takes her a long time to get them back out so she does not let them out very often!
  5. Talking Mats was used with a man who had had a stroke and had to go into residential care because his family could no longer look after him. They were very worried that he was unhappy with the new care set up. He was able to show with the Talking Mats that he was happy about everything except that he was not given enough time when he went to the toilet. Once the staff realised this they then gave him more time which resolved the situation and reassured his family.

Please send us your Talking Mats stories – we love hearing them.