Posted: December 15 2020
Three Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapists (SLT), including one from Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, have created a child’s listen and look book that families can share and enjoy, whilst developing early speech and language skills in young children.
Helene Somerville has been the Trust’s Cleft Lip and Palate Highly Specialist SLT for over 18 years. Together with other Highly Specialist SLTs Rhian Hoccom and Lisa Farquhar, they have successfully published “The Sound We Found”, a child’s listen and look book inspired by the many children and families they work with. It is the first in a planned series of books designed to encourage early speech sound production in young children.
Helene Somerville said: "I think there is still a lack of knowledge as to what a speech and language therapist actually does and the range of conditions that we can help with. In Children’s Speech and Language Therapy this includes children with Autism, Dysfluency, Developmental Language Disorder, Feeding and Swallowing difficulties, and Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia, to name but a few. Part of our reason for writing this book was to make the ‘input modelling’ speech therapy technique part of a child’s daily routine. Since working on input makes no demand on the speech output of the child, it is an ideal therapy approach to use with very young children."
The Sound We Found is based on ‘multisensory input modelling’, which is a technique used in speech and language therapy. Children reading the book with their parents will hear and see repetitions of sounds with no pressure to produce the sound themselves – this is the concept known as ‘input modelling’. These sounds are stored in the child’s ‘sound system’ for use when they are ready to attempt them. By not placing any pressure on the child, this allows time for them to reflect on the qualities of sounds with the hypothesis that this will strengthen phonological representations and subsequently improve the accuracy of output skills. Regular exposure to the book provides the opportunity to repeatedly model sounds to the child - the more the child hears these sounds, the more likely they are to use them.
The Sound We Found is also a form of early intervention which aims to foster an early love of books in children. Reading can improve a child’s comprehension, listening, speaking, spelling, vocabulary and writing as well as general knowledge. It therefore enhances a child's educational achievement across the curriculum, as well as emotional, personal and social development. Reading can also assist with the development of the parent-child bond, promoting intimacy and well-being.
Recent Government and Ofsted reports have reported that almost all Early Years providers have said that the pandemic had significantly impacted the learning and development of children, who had returned to the setting since first lockdown. The Authors hope that using The Sound We Found and associated sound play activities will provide one step in the recovery of children’s overall communication development.
Speaking about the book’s reception, Helene said: “It has been so exciting to see the interest in the book. It has featured in a couple of articles in the Channel Islands media and I was interviewed on BBC Radio Jersey about the book and was able to share some insights in to the impact of glue ear and the associated conductive hearing loss on speech development in young children. The UK Cleft Lip and Palate Association charity CLAPA have featured the book on their social media platforms, we have had had exploratory talks with a parenting website who are going to promote the book and most recently have had interest in the book from several Speech Pathologists in the USA.”
To date, The Sound We Found has sold over 2,000 copies, including several hundred in the United States with strong interest being also shown by trusts across the NHS.
You can find more information about the book on The Sound We Found landing page on the Burton Mayers Books website: https://www.burtonmayersbooks.com/the-sound-we-found. You can also follow the book on Twitter and Instagram:
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