Special Educational Needs and Disability blog

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  • Simple steps to unleash strengths

    Have you ever read a research-based report and thought, "I don't recognise this person, are you sure you wrote about the right person?"

    This was the premise of a session I attended at the American Occupational Therapy (AOTA) conference in April titled: Strengths-Based Coaching: Learn how to Implement this Evidence Based Practice. I have to declare my reason for attending the session – one of the presenters is an author I have had the honor of working with, someone who has inspired and taught me so much over the years – Dr. Winnie Dunn (Professor and Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy Education, University of Kansas), along with her co-presenter Dr. Ellen Pope (Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy Education, University of Kansas). As an Occupational Therapist and mother of a child in receipt of many services over the years, the takeaway messages from the session struck both a professional and personal note.

    For the purposes of this piece I’ll refer to my child as “A*”…Perhaps subconsciously I am saying my child is “A star”!

    Countless times my husband and I have met with a professional to be told:

    • “A* can’t do this”
    • “A* has not reached this milestone”
    • “A* exhibits this negative behaviour”

    Countless times, we have turned it around to ask:

    • “What is A* good at?” 
    • “What are A*’s strengths?” 
    • “How can we use these strengths to support A*?” 

    By knowing the answers to these questions, we, as parents, feel more engaged in the process. Instead of being defeated by what our child can’t do, we embrace the positives; we see opportunities instead of challenges; we share A’s* potential with others!

    As Drs. Dunn and Pope demonstrated in their workshop, current evidence illustrates that strengths-based coaching leads to significant changes in both participation and self-efficacy; seeing the positives and strengths in a person helps focus on a more functional approach to intervention, it helps people to thrive with greater life satisfaction often in quite challenging situations, and in line with Csikszentmihalyi’s work on the Flow experience, helps people persist at an activity when it presents just the right challenge.

    Drs Dunn and Pope challenged the audience to consider practical examples of working with families to implement a strengths-based coaching model, to shift from a deficit based method of assessment and intervention to using positive approaches. As a takeaway, I decided to look at some reports I’d read over the years, and have a go at implementing this approach.  What do you think?

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  • 'time to talk' Countywide Conference 2014 - Guest Blog Post

    This week’s guest blog post is from Deborah Powers, Speech and Language Therapist from 'time to talk'.

    ‘time to talk’ were recipients of The Shine a Light Award 2013/14 for Children’s Workforce. We caught up with them to see what other activities the team had undertaken since winning this prestigious award.

    'time to talk’ Countywide Conference

    Following the success of previous years, we held a conference for this year and secured a top venue and some great speakers. The conference took place in November 2014 and we welcomed 70 Early Years and Children’s Centres practitioners who are involved in implementing the ‘time to talk’ strategy across Warwickshire.

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  • Celebrating the winners of the Shine a Light Awards

    On the 3rd April, Pearson Assessment in partnership with The Communication Trust announced the results of the Shine a Light Awards 2013/14.

    These awards, now in their third year aim to celebrate innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development.

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  • Kate Jones from Thetford Grammar School talks about her plans for Cogmed

    Earlier this month we announced that Thetford Grammar School were the lucky recipients of a years free license of Cogmed Working Memory Training; Kate Jones, the school's SENCO entered a competition with Pearson Assessment.

    Lloyd Smith our brand new Sales Consultant covering the East of the UK went to see the school to find out more about them and their grand plans for working memory improvement.

    Thetford Grammar is an independent school that has just over 300 pupils aged 3.5 – 18 years of age. The school recently became a CReSTeD (Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils) accredited school, acknowledging their commitment to excellence when working with Dyslexic pupils.

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  • Shine a Light 2012 - a night to celebrate

    It's hard to believe that just over a year ago we launched the first ever Shine a Light Awards as part of the Hello, national year of communication campaign. Now in their second year the Awards have proven to hold a special place in the industry; a fact recognised at last week's award ceremony.

    After months of preparation, research into helium balloons, how to download acceptance videos and the inner workings of bubble machines...the hard work has paid off! On the 21 November over 120 individuals came together at 80 Strand, with celebrity host Paul Ross, to hear the results of this year's awards, which included exciting new categories such as Communication Champion and Youth Justice.

    The Shine a Light Awards were established to honour individuals, teams, projects and communities which have demonstrated excellence in supporting the needs of all children and young people’s communication, particularly those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). This year we were delighted to honour some of the following, including the nursery setting Haven 2000 Nursery Ltd as our Early Years’ Setting of the Year, community‐wide Every Sheffield Child Articulate and Literate (ESCAL) for the Communication and 17‐year‐old Jack Fradgley as Young Person of the Year and winner of our Outstanding Achievement award. The look of surprise and delight on Jack and his families face is one to remember.

    It was also a particular treat to honour Mr Tumble/Justin Fletcher as another Outstanding Achievement Winner, along with Jean Gross CBE, the government's Communication Champion during the national year.

    There were many highlights at this years awards, but some particular moments stand out including Justin Fletcher aka Mr Tumble's acceptance video filmed at Justin's House, Jack Marshall - last years' young person of the year and a judge for 2012 - congratulation speech to this year's young person - inspiring is not a grand enough word, and of course some Shine a Light cupcakes!

    Find out about this year's winners and highly commended finalists in our mini video, (many thanks to Tentacle Media for putting this together - amazing as always!), and reminder to look out for Shine a Light 2013! www.shinealightawards.co.uk   

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  • Shining a light on communication champions

    The Shine a Light awards for the Hello, national year of communication have been a milestone mark in our calendars over the course of this year, and yesterday the inaugural event finally arrived!

    On the 10th Floor of the Strand, over 120 people came together to celebrate their achievements and hear the anticipated results of their applications, submitted back in August. The setting offered fantastic views over the Thames where the lights from surrounding buildings and the London Eye lit up over the afternoon as the sun disappeared. We were also lucky to have a surprise celebrity host, TV and radio presenter Vanessa Feltz who brought to the ceremony enthusiasm and warmth for the subject, and worked to really make every award winner and finalist feel special.

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