At our autism service Hollyrood in Lindfield, the speech and language team (SLT) offer invaluable provisions for service users and their support workers. The overall goal of the SLT team is to ensure that service users are able to effectively communicate throughout their day, for example expressing needs, making choices and socialising.

They are able to assist the support workers by giving them a better understanding of the service users communication and strategies that will support them. In many cases visual strategies, such as Makaton signing, is implemented and added to their plan. Makaton communication is a form of communication using signs and symbols. The SLT team offer training on Makaton to the support workers and the service users and offer refresher lessons as and when are needed.

The SLT team provide sessions for the service users, such as arts and crafts, cookery, sensory communication, and can join community activities. These sessions promote effective communication and also teach and model visual strategies for service users and support workers, such as how to offer visual choices, developing signing skills. Helen Chiu, SLT from SymbolUK at Hollyrood said:

It’s really important to work with the support workers and keep in contact with them as much as possible. Plans for service users can change frequently, so going back and fourth with them, working out a successful plan is key.

Being a speech and language therapist can be quite challenging but it can also be highly rewarding. SLT Assistant Carol Brown, said: “No day is ever the same. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to put a plan in place which is able to support a service user to engage with an activity he or she enjoys”.

Hollyrood is a residential and day centre providing services for people with autism, and is run through The Disabilities Trust's Autism services. Hollyrood provides support and accommodation for 25 adults, aged over 18, who have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, or have autistic tendencies. We also support individuals with behaviours that might challenge alternative services and those with epilepsy.

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