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Does anyone have experience of speech and language units, (or an ear whilst I moan?)

(12 Posts)
slightlycrumpled Mon 26-Oct-09 14:01:47

Hello all,

I was after any advice or experience that anyone may have with regards to speech and language units.

DS2(6) has a chromosome abnormality that has left him partially deaf, sub mucus cleft palate, verbal dyspraxia and many medical difficulties.

He is fully statemented at mainstream school and has been doing okay, although I was just starting to get niggling concerns about his happiness at school. We had a hospital appointment last week that basically showed that the palate repair he had done last year hasn't worked effectively and he needs a more severe one done. The problem is that the main carotoid (sp) artery that runs to the brain is enlarged and right near where they would need to cut/sew, therefore the risk of bleeding etc is very high. For us the risk is too high and we would rather just get on with the job of parenting him as he is (which is of course perfect!).

I now feel the time has come to look into other avenues of education for him. I'm not entirely convinced that school are doing the very best for him anymore and that his one to one support is used more widely as a classroom LSA, including doing speech therapy sessions with other children.

The difficulty is that he doesn't seem to 'fit' anywhere, mainstream or special needs units, so we were looking at speech and language units and I was after any experience parents on here may have had.

Thanks for reading. smile

HelensMelons Mon 26-Oct-09 14:46:55

Hi Slightlycrumpled

My ds2 has dx of hfa/adhd and s&L difficulties. He went to ICAN Pre School Nursery/+mainstream nursery and then from P1 (4/5) to date (P5, 8/9 yrs) has been in a speech and language unit attached to a mainstream school.

His class has 6 -7 other pupils in it, teacher and full time class room assistant. He receives his s&L therapy whilst in school as a normal lesson and also receives group work that helps with social skills/interaction.

He does sport and has sports days same as any other school.

My experience has been extremely positive. The school have worked with us every year to iron out any difficultes there have been getting ds2 to settle, any difficulties around homework, school work - anything and everything the staff have been brilliant.

The s&L unit staff are excellent as well. DS2 has received a really high input from them and they have been great at working him hard!

DS2 would have been completely lost without this type of specialist unit. He absolutely loves school, can't wait to get there every day and misses it at the weekend. He is really thriving.

From a parental pnt of view, I feel that this unit has really safeguarded him and is allowing him to achieve what he is capable of without being in a system where he would be lost x

bubble2bubble Mon 26-Oct-09 20:21:21


My DD1 is in a Speech & Language unit within a mainstream primary and while we agonised last year over sending her there is is definately the best thing we could have done. The progress she has made is beyond belief,and she is so, so happy there.

She is in a class of 9, all have S & L difficulties but no learning difficulties. She has verbal & oral dyspraxia and a phonological disorder. While she got on absolutely fine in mainstream nursery she has so little intelligible speech I honestly think she would be lost in mainstram school.

As Helons says, the speech therapy just becomes part of normal lessons - the SLT is there 4 days a week, does 1-1 and group sessions, but the teacher and CA are working on the same targets for speech at the same time.

We went to visit the unit last year, before we made a decision, but what really helped most was talking to some of the parents whose kids were already there, and all of them were so positive.These units are pretty thin on the ground, but if your DC does get a chance of a place I would grab it!

slightlycrumpled Tue 27-Oct-09 09:22:18

Thanks helensmelons and bubble, it is good to hear positive stories.

I think we will go and look at a couple of them, around here they don't take them until key stage two anyway so he has at least another year at mainstream. I think he is starting to get a little bit lost although his reading and writing skills are age appropriate he just cannot speak. It is a big garbled mess of noise and I think he would benefit from the more intense speech therapy.

Thanks again you've given me lots to think about.

Zondra Sun 01-Nov-09 19:08:08

Hi there!

My son attended a S&L unit attached to a mainstream school for 3 years-ages 5 to 8.

I remember feeling really sad that he wouldn't be joining his peers from nursery at our local school & his first day at school was bittersweet,I was so proud of my "big boy" but,sad he was going to a "special school".

Well,I soon got over that!
The Unit & teachers were amazing with him.Best opportunity he has ever had.Without it he would still have severe speech & language problems.

He is now 11 & has been getting on brilliantly in mainstream.So proud of him!
He still has slightly stilted speech & sometimes odd intonation (this is probably more down to his Asperger's Syndrome though,I think) but,he can make himself perfectly understood & most importantly can communicate his thoughts & feelings now.
There are very few of these units & places in them.If you have the opportunity to go,grab it with both hands!

Just want to add,hearing my son call me "Mummy" for the first time after attending the unit after 4 months was one of the most amazing moments of my life.

Zondra Sun 01-Nov-09 19:15:11

Not sure wherebouts you are,slightlycrumpled but,the unit my son attended was Caledonia S&L unit,Baillieston,Glasgow.

bubble2bubble Mon 02-Nov-09 10:24:18

Zondra I know what you mean, and really good to hear your DS has done so well.

We were so torn between keeping our DD in the local school with her friends from nursery, or going to the language unit which is quite a bit away. I cried the whole way home after visiting he unit - I think the reality of Special Education really hit me.

After a couple of weeks DD1 came home and suddenly said "yes" for the first time, quickly followed by "OK" and I was just in shock!

slightlycrumpled Mon 02-Nov-09 11:28:04

Zondra thanks for your message, it made me a little tearful! Mind you am pregnant, am often tearful!

bubble, I like to think that I face his special needs head on but I wonder if I maybe don't. I mean he is currently in year one and very popular. He gets invited to all of the parties, to friends houses for tea etc. The children love him, BUT they don't want to work with him as they cannot understand him. Part of me is really pissed off with his one to one support as she is supposed to be communicating for him. He signs and is soon to get a communication aid so maybe things will improve.

I'm torn between removing him from his friends and thinking more longer term in terms of his speech development. He really is at the severe end of the spectrum for speech disorders.

I guess it's normal to feel confused and worried, but sometimes it's a little tiring!

It is good to hear of your children's successes. How lovely. smile

Singed Mon 02-Nov-09 12:13:22

Hi slightlycrumpled - my DD2 is at a mainstream primary that has an integral S&L unit (or resource for language provision or whatever they call it!). My DD has a statement with full time 1-1 and is in Year 1. She is virtually non-verbal and uses Makaton, a communication aid and non-verbal communication and gestures. Her LSA is hugely experienced and all staff seem to benefit from having 'in-house' experts. Communication is an integral part of the whole school and assemblies, Christmas concerts etc are great as all the children sign as they sing.

My DD doesn't attend the S&L unit as such; she is managing ok and also has learning disabilities so is getting more from 1-1 work in her year group class, however they said she may well access the unit when she is a little older and not so behind academically. However it's really reassuring for us to know that the whole school is so geared up to communication difficulties and SN generally and that the expertise is there when she is ready for it.

bubble2bubble Mon 02-Nov-09 12:17:02

Slightly crumpled - I know, I know, this is exactly what was happening with us. DD1 was in a great nursery, had a really good group of friends who understood her signing, was never left out, went to the parties etc BUT I was very aware that as she got older her speech would become more of an issue.
She is now the only girl in a class of 9 so I have made a big effort to keep up contact with a couple of her little girl friends from nursery, especially as she will end up back in mainstream - her S & L placement is only for 2 years at most

It is exhausting - you feel any decisions about schooling will have repercussions for years and I was terrified we would make the wrong decision. LIke you I thought I had come to terms with the diagnosis and was realistic about her prognosis as well but it was still very, very hard. Well meaning friends & relatives who don't 'get' speech & language disorders were all misguidedly encouraging us to keep DD at the local school because it is such a good school etc, but like I said, it was the parents of kids who were already in the unit who convinced us

HelensMelons Mon 02-Nov-09 16:02:21

Just wanted to add felt the same really - ds2 also went to a great mainstream nursery and the teachers were fantastic - he went to ICAN at the same time and it was really down to them and their honesty about how severe his s&L was that we knew that we had no choice but to go down the specialist unit route.

The smaller classes are a godsend really and the children all get to know each other very well and he has made new friends.

It is hard knowing that your child is going down a slightly different path to the one that maybe you imagined - however, it has been so worth it - ds2 loves school and his s&l has come on amazingly well because of the input x

Phoenix4725firestarter Tue 03-Nov-09 07:22:30

following with intrest as i looked at Sand L unit for ds but they was very anti LD there so were in situation where ds is in ms school with f/t support but as helpful as they are they are struggling with training/experiance etc

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