Shepherds Down School, like all Hampshire Special Schools, has access to support from Speech and Language Therapists (SaLTs) from the Hampshire County Council Communication and Interaction Team, part of the Specialist Teacher Advisory Service (STAS).
We assess and offer support to children who may have difficulties with:
Speech sounds, understanding of language, using words and sentences, vocabulary, attention and listening, social communication skills.
We work in lots of different ways:
At Shepherds Down we work closely with all class staff. Staff have done specialist training (ELKAN Supporting Children with Speech and Language Difficulties) and all staff have ongoing training and support sessions on speech, language and communication so that all classes can focus on speech, language and communication activities within the classroom and across the curriculum. Additionally, we can see individuals and offer assessments, programmes or specific therapy and regularly run groups within classes or with specific identified children.
NHS Children’s Therapy Service
We are Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy. As a team, we visit school weekly and are usually on site every Monday.
As Link Therapists to the School, we are available to support staff and to answer questions or to give advice on how to adapt the classroom environment and activities to best support the learning of children with physical and communication needs.
If school staff report any concerns that your child is not responding to the specially adapted curriculum or their needs have changed, we may suggest doing some direct work with them. Your child’s class teacher will talk to you about this and ask for your written consent. If you are happy for us to go ahead, we will then arrange to see your child on one of our weekly visits, and will contact you to discuss any therapy needs. This might involve one-off assessment and advice either through observation or 1:1 activities, or a block of specific therapy – depending on what is needed at the time. Once strategies have been identified and your child is supported to make progress, we will ask their teacher to continue this with our advice and support as needed, but they may not require direct input from our team.
For those children who have additional physical needs such as difficulties sitting, standing or walking and those who require more support with eating, drinking and personal care tasks we may need to carry out visits to the child’s home. This may also include the provision of equipment to assist with these skills as needed.
We also aim to run termly parent drop in sessions and these are an opportunity for you to also ask questions, raise concerns or seek advice – even if your child is not currently receiving direct therapy from us. Look out for the next date in the school newsletter.
Sensory Processing OT input:
Efficient sensory processing is “the organisation of sensory input for use” (Jane Ayres 1970).
It helps us to make sense of who we are and the world around us. It is a neurological process, involving the brain, spinal cord connected to different parts of the body by nerves.
Many of the children in the school have difficulties with sensory processing, this means they find it difficult to receive and respond to information that comes in through their senses. When the system does not function well, the result is raised agitation, lack of attention, anxiety, inability to ignore distraction and oversensitivity. This has a significant effect on learning, and limits their potential if not addressed.
At Shepherds Down school we aim to ensure that we address any difficulties a child might have with their ability to process the senses through the distraction free environment provided and where required assessment and an individual programme to address any differences. A typical programme would be based on the assessment of the individual sensory processing difficulties and is often referred to as a ‘sensory diet’. It includes activities such as regular exercise, bouncing on a trampoline, ‘squeezing’/deep pressure and use of wobble cushions and weighted jackets/blankets all aimed to provide the sensory feedback children need in relation to their own body.
In order to provide this, we have two highly trained LSA who support the assessment and advices on programmes across the school. We also provide, funded through FOSDA, advice and monitoring from a highly skilled Specialist OT who is known to the school, for half a day each half term.