One of the main areas of need for our children and young people is in the area of communication. All our children/young people will have some level of learning disability and some difficulty with speech and language. The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group provides weekly speech and language to its members during term time and have done so for nearly 20 years.

Speech and Language sessions for our children and young people is about increasing their vocabulary, give them clarity of speech, understanding of language, teaching signs but most of all increasing their confidence and self esteem by encouraging them to speak and giving them the structure and words they need to do this.

Because of the outbreak of Coronavirus, the group’s trustees had to think outside the box and find an alternative way to continue to provide this crucial service. Which is when the idea of virtual speech sessions came about.

Oliver has been receiving speech and language since the service began nearly 20 years ago. His mum Jo, shares how Oliver has adapted to this ‘new way’ of receiving speech therapy.

Before the lockdown how often did Oliver receive SALT?

Oliver received speech once a week during term time.

What support are you getting with SALT now? 

Oliver is currently receiving a virtual session once a fortnight with work being sent through to do between these session sT.his has been delivered through email or in the post.

Without regular SALT sessions in lockdown how would this have impacted Oliver?

Oliver would have lost the progress that he has made over the last few months. Young people with Down’s syndrome need repetition in learning so they retain it into their long term memory. Because Oliver has been shielding at home he not been seeing people, his link with speech has really helped him have a small amount of normality.

How has Oliver found the virtual SALT sessions?

Oliver enjoys the sessions and loves seeing the power points with his name on them. He is responding well to learning this way. Colourful slides enable him to focus and then backing it all up with the resources sent he is enjoying this new way of learning.

What has been Oliver’s favourite part of these new sessions?

Being able to access it from home and not have a 30 minute drive there and 45 minute drive back he is more focused and willing to learn.

How has Oliver adapted to the changes?

Oliver has adapted brilliantly to these changes. In fact he has embraced this change and looks forward to seeing Erica on the laptop as part of his new routine. He loves the learning packs sent and the fact they are addressed to him.

As a parent how has having access to SALT during lockdown help you?

SALT has been something to look forward to, its given Oliver confidence in this unsure time. It has helped us keep a small amount of life normal with something to focus on .Seeing a friendly face has really cheered him up. Oliver has had someone else to tell about what he has been doing other than us. This has really helped his speech and sentence work.