Gina Thompson and Meera Solanky

Speech and Language Therapists (SALTs) support students to use a variety of methods to enable them to develop understanding and communicate functionally with those around them. The NHS SALT team, work with a range of different needs across Birch Wood, primarily focusing on functional communication and understanding that maximises their access to the classroom. We very much work with an environmental approach, recognising that language and learning needs to be support across the day, in all settings.

We primarily work using classroom observations and identifying the best ways to maximise understanding, independence and communicating for a range of functions. Where appropriate, we will offer direct intervention and support for speech sounds, dysfluency or language development in episodes of care. This is when we will complete a short block of work and then hand over to the class team with clear targets and activities. We work closely with the staff teams to ensure that activities and strategies are carried over into the classroom, to promote a total communication environment for the students that we work for.

We work closely with Sarah Wilson (communication lead at Birch Wood), who creates resources such as communication books and ETran frames in line with our therapy plans and guidance. Sarah also completes episodes of care with students in line with SALT guidance and advice, particularly with AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) users.

We also form a bridge between the Electronic Assistive Technology Service (EATS) team (powered AAC within the NHS) and school/families. We facilitate assessment and intervention for students, where they will benefit from a powered AAC device. We also support with the implementation of paper-based AAC options, such as PECS, communication boards and communication books. We can advise on where this is appropriate, and the best next steps to integrate this across the day.

Gina is also a dysphagia trained therapist, who oversees mealtime assessments and provide strategies and recommendations to ensure safe eating and drinking at all times.   If you would like to discuss anything with us, please do not hesitate to contact us via school to discuss any concerns or questions that you may have.

Available Support

  • Dysphagia assessment and recommendations.
  • Specific dysphagia and communication training
  • Communication assessment, advice and guidance
  • Direct intervention for functional communication approaches where appropriate.

Reasons for request for involvement

  • Those with speech and language difficulties, such as a stammer, unclear speech.  The student will need a certain level of cognitive ability to access any support offered, but this will be assessed as part of the request.
  • Where there is no functional communication system in place.
  • Where a student has met their previous targets and requires further guidance to understand the best next steps to further develop their functional communication system.