I qualified as a speech and language therapist (SLT) in 2010 and have practised locally and globally ever since. I have worked in a variety of settings such as; hospitals and clinics, both private and state-run schools and within numerous family households of a diverse range of cultures, nationalities and ethnicities.
During my final years of university, I started working in London and internationally as a Live-in Nanny for children with special needs. Immersing myself within the family of a child with special needs, put a very different spin on my therapeutic outlook. Therapy did not start or end in a therapy room.
In 2011 I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I joined a multi-disciplinary clinic that was run by British Psychologists. I worked with local and international children. At this time, there were only 4 qualified speech and language therapists in the whole of the country, and there was little understanding of the role. The majority of children that sought help in Cambodia had significant communication needs and I started to question what the essence of communication was. Communication seemed to be much more than talking. After all, I was a foreigner living in a country with minimal understanding of the native language, yet somehow, I was getting by every day.
The Khmer Rouge still had an impact in Cambodia, the trauma of genocide was still being seen throughout the generations. I wondered how such an emotional turmoil of the country could impact child development. For many, this was the first generation to have adults as their main care giver. I started teaching in a local primary school and had a class of 30 children. This was a wonderful learning opportunity for me, not just to see the trajectory of development in regards to play, friendship building skills and of course their language, but to have first-hand experience of what teaching entails.
During my time in Cambodia, I also worked with a team of Audiologists. I developed and delivered various training programs for them on the impact of hearing and listening difficulties to speech and language development, and when treating hearing disorders in rural parts of Cambodia how to identify a speech and language delay/ disorder.
I moved to Singapore in 2012 and started working in a multi-disciplinary clinic. I worked alongside incredibly talented and passionate therapists of all disciplines and had wonderful supervisors who were able to bring more structure to my thinking. Once again, I threw myself into the experience but this time I had much more guidance and support around me.
In Singapore, I first came across the term Sensory Processing Disorder. This was a turning point in my career and understanding of human development.
During my time in Singapore, I studied to become a consultant of Stanley Greenspan's Developmental, Individual differences, Relationship based model (DIR). I worked within the first DIR school in South East Asia and had first hand experience of seeing how the DIR model can work within a primary school setting.
The idea of speech and language therapy extending outside of the therapy room still stayed with me. Twice I travelled to the USA to undertake a therapeutic camp for children with special needs headed by brilliantly energetic Occupational Therapists. I lived and worked closely with the therapists and the children in the camp delivering direct therapy for all of the children every day. This was another huge learning experience for me. To be involved in implementing sensory processing intervention day and night to maintain the child's regulation and thinking skills was an eye opening and inspiring experience.
After 6 years in South East Asia, it was time for me to return back to the UK. Returning to work was a shock, I was expecting to find the therapy services in the UK to be as individualised and as family-focused as I had become accustomed to, unfortunately that was not the case.
I worked in a few NHS based roles and a couple of private multidisciplinary clinics in and around London before I realised that for me to provide a fully tailored and personalised intervention program for my clients, I had to bite the bullet and take the leap into independent practice.
I am now working independently with a diverse caseload of children mostly between the ages of 18 months- 12 years. I do also work with teenagers and young adults dependent on their needs.
I work in collaboration with other therapists and companies with similar beliefs to myself.
I have three clinical spaces, one in South London, one in East London and one in Essex and I regularly bounce between the three.
When I am not working, I am usually running around after my daughter.
I wholeheartedly believe that therapy is not teaching skills but rewiring the neurological pathways of the brain through playful interactions.
I believe that it is imperative to understand the child's developmental level and full developmental profile. If a child is experiencing difficulties in one area such as poor core strength, it is likely to have a knock-on effect to other areas of their development. An example of this is poor trunk support results in limited head and neck control which can impact eye muscle movement and ultimately result in poor eye contact to others. To understand why the child is delayed or disordered in any area we need to understand how the system is linked so we can aim to develop the root cause.
There is no one-size-fits-all intervention package. Every child is unique and the intervention needs to be tailored to them and their family.
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