We are delighted to welcome our new SLT, Louise Bingham, to the Speech Link Multimedia Ltd team. Louise has worked for the NHS for the past 8 years supporting children and young people in Kent schools.
Those of you who attended recent training in Barking and Dagenham or have taken part in our Infant Language Link study will already have met Louise, who is now in Mexico recharging her batteries, before getting back on the road to visit more schools around the country.
We asked Louise to tell us a bit about herself and why speech and language therapy is so important to her.
My younger cousin has dyspraxia and, when I was still at school, I used to help her with her reading when I baby sat. She would have difficulty reading some words and producing some sounds, which I found that I enjoyed helping her with. My grandad had a stroke around that time and needed speech and language therapy - this was the first time I had encountered a speech and language therapist and became interested in the profession from then on. The patience that the therapist had in working with him and the difference that she made in helping him to communicate and feel more confident were invaluable to my family.
At school I loved English language and English literature but also loved the sciences. I was certain that I wanted to combine the two as a career and from my experiences with my family, I wanted to care for people, but I didn’t want anything too medical - I’m not good with blood and bodily fluids – training as a doctor was not on the cards!
I trained to be a SLT in Newcastle, this seemed far enough away from home to be an adventure, without actually leaving the country!
One of my first student placements was working with adults and I remember working with a farmer who had an acquired brain injury from being charged at by cattle. I was working with him on the word bus which I was pronouncing with my Kentish accent. My educator ran in and said he won’t know what you mean, we don’t pronounce bus like that in Geordie we say as 'oo' as in book. It was no wonder he had been struggling to understand what I was saying, let alone say the word himself!
In fact, a number of people questioned whether I would be able to treat children in Newcastle because of my Kentish accent and another student on my course was asked to tone down her accent as it was so broad! As part of our training, we learn to produce all sounds, so we became adept (after some practice) at changing our sounds to fit in with the children’s accents, if we needed to. I was adamant that the ‘bus’ debacle wouldn’t happen again!
The area of SLCN that interests me the most is ‘voice’. While working in the NHS, the SLT specialising in voice left the team and I was lucky enough to be able to take on this role. I attended several training courses and was fortunate to work with Annie Elias, Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist in Voice.
I really enjoy the problem solving that is necessary in treating voice problems in children, as you really have to unpick the factors to achieve an accurate diagnosis and then treatment plan. Voice is generally poorly understood - lots of people will think it’s always about vocal abuse (shouting and screaming) whereas anxiety or tension can be the cause of difficulties with the voice, or often it’s a combination of factors. Due to the small number of cases seen, even therapists sometimes feel underconfident and de-skilled in supporting children with voice disorders and another part of my role that I enjoyed was training and supporting SLTs in my team.
I will always remember working with a teenager with a psychogenic voice disorder. This is a voice disorder that does not have a physical cause but has a psychological cause. The teenager and her family naturally believed that there was something physically wrong with her throat and as well as helping her with strategies to relax and deconstrict her throat, our role was to help her and her family to understand the anxieties and worries that were causing her to have no voice.
When Louise is not training schools, she will be here in our offices at Speech Link Multimedia Ltd, keeping up to date with research and writing for the link magazine. She will also be greatly involved in product development. Schools can contact Louise to discuss a Speech Link, Language Link or Junior Language Link assessment that is causing concern and offer specialist advice about what to do next with the child.
Louise will be at The RCSLT Conference on the 25th-26th September at the East Midlands Conference Centre – please come and say hello to Louise and meet the rest of the team!
Contact Louise - firstname.lastname@example.org