March 6th was European Day of Speech and Language Therapy, a day created by the Standing Liaison Committee of Speech and Language Therapists / Logopedists in the European Union (also known as Comité Permanent de Liaison des Orthophonistes-Logopèdes de l’UE or CPLOL for short!).
CPLOL determined that it was essential to increase awareness about different communication difficulties and their impact on the health and rights of the people who experience them as well as to raise awareness of the various ways in which Speech and Language Therapy can help these people.
“The message of EU day is that the prevention of communication disorders may gain by sharing knowledge and experience throughout Europe.”
Find out more about CPLOL here.
To mark this day, UCLU Giving Voice Society hosted an evening of talks and comedy to help raise awareness of a variety of communication disorders and how speech and language therapy (SLT) can help.
Our evening was opened by a speaker from the UCL Communication Clinic who told her story of her stroke and how she was cared for in the same hospital that she worked in. We are very grateful to this speaker who stepped in at the last minute for us and did a wonderful job with the support of an SLT from the clinic. By speaking, she gave us the perspective of a service-user and emphasised the importance of ongoing help from SLTs.
Next up was Anna Volkmer, a highly specialist speech and language therapist who works with people with dementia. She gave us a brief outline of alzheimer’s and the physical effects on the brain before going into the role of speech and language therapy in its management (including differential diagnosis, management of communication/swallow and education). Engaging and insightful, we all learnt something from hearing Anna speak.
Our next speaker was the wonderful Lloyd from Mencap who talked to us about the need for accessible information as well as the importance of good healthcare for people with learning disabilities . Lloyd hit us with some hard facts about some avoidable deaths that have happened in the recent past and outlined some of the rights of people with learning disabilities in terms of access to appropriate healthcare . He also shared with us that he was the National Learning Disability Champion 2015 and proudly showed off his medal to a cheering crowd.
Advice from Lloyd for talking to someone with a learning disability:
“Be yourself, talk normally, as you would to anyone else with a disability!”
A short break with light refreshments was followed by a genuinely “laugh out loud” comedy set by Lee Ridley AKA Lost Voice Guy. He had the room in hysterics with his jokes that he delivered using his ipad as an AAC device which was accompanied by impressive non-verbal skills. Lee kindly answered some questions following his set which showed the delays of text to speech output but also allowed Lee to show his wit and humour with spontaneous responses. A true comedian!
After Lee we had another speaker from the UCL Communication Clinic. He also shared his story about having a stroke and the changes and challenges he faced in its wake. He spoke very highly about the NHS and the role of SLT in his rehabilitation. He could not speak more highly of the UCL clinic and its staff and students.
“I believe the NHS should be supported more and valued more…without the NHS & my team of therapists I shudder to think what would have come of me”
Following this, Beth Davies from Downright Excellent told us about the amazing work this charity does and her role as an SLT working with children with Down Syndrome. She highlighted the importance of working with children’s strengths, such as their ability to learn visually which can be harnessed to teach language and whole word reading.
To end the evening, our last speaker Jemma Vella informed us about the role of SLT in the youth justice system and surrounding areas such as social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Jemma was also produced some hard facts, really encouraging the audience to think about why a child may be behaving in a certain way and what can we do to support them-she encouraged us to think about behaviour as communication.
“60% of young people in the youth justice system have underlying Speech Language and Communication Needs”
“50-90% of children with social, emotional & behavioural needs had SLCN”
Thank you to everyone who came and made it a great night, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! We love putting these events together and seeing the audience members engage as much as they do with thought provoking and sensitive questions only enhances the event and makes it all more worthwhile!
Giving Voice Committee