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How speech therapy unlocks family communication

Our borough is the third most ethnically diverse local population in the whole of the UK and more than half of our school pupils do not speak English as their first language.

Ealing Children’s Speech and Language Therapy service is funded by the NHS and Ealing Council. Its speech and language therapists support children and young people aged up to 18.

It works with children who have difficulties with their communication skills – but it also provides families and schools with support for children who need help with English or with their family’s home language.

‘BEING BILINGUAL IS A POWERFUL TOOL’

Brody Sutcliffe, speech and language therapist, said: “October is ‘Celebrating the bilingual child’ month and we want to raise awareness that speaking more than one language can be a huge advantage in life and should be celebrated. Learning more than one language is not confusing for children, even if they have a speech, language and communication need. Being bilingual is a powerful tool.”

Bethany Ross, another speech and language therapist, added: “Speak to your child in the language you are most confident and comfortable in using. This helps your child to develop a strong social and cultural identity; and it also helps to maintain family connections.”

‘MY FACE INSTANTLY LIT UP’

One local mother was worried about talking to her two-year-old son Abdi* in their home language, Somali. He had some communication difficulties and was learning English and she did not want to confuse him. However, after getting advice and support, she felt confident to start trying. And, after just a few weeks, Abdi said his first word in Somali and is now doing it more and more.

Abdi’s mother said: “After trying the strategies I was given by the therapist, I incorporated these into my day-to-day communication in Somali and I saw a massive change when he responded to me in Somali. My face instantly lit up and I was happy and shocked as he had never responded to me in Somali before.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

If you want to speak to a speech and language therapist, you can find support through the service’s Facebook page or you can contact it via email at Ealing.SLTadvice@nhs.net

Alternatively, you can also speak to your child’s health visitor, GP, school or nursery.

*Name changed to protect their identity

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