Laura’s Story: “Speech and language therapy has had such an impact on my life”

Our latest service user blog is by Laura, who uses a book to aid communication and has speech and language therapy at Hedleys Able 2. She explains how important both have been to her. Laura’s story featured in the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists bulletin recently.

Laura’s Story: “Speech and language therapy has had such an impact on my life”

“My name is Laura and I was born and raised in Durham. I am a member of Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association (NUDSA). I love being part of NUDSA because I attend committee meetings to share ideas for fundraising and raising disability awareness.

I have visual impairment and cerebral palsy involving my whole body, and resulting in dysphagia and dysarthria. I am funded for speech and language therapy at Hedleys Able2, who regularly assess my eating and drinking. My support team are provided mealtime management plans and dysphagia training to ensure I can enjoy food and drink as safely as possible. Mealtimes have recently improved as my support staff now have a better understanding of my positioning and the speed at which I like to eat.

My funding also covers communication and a speech and language therapy assistant visits me at home every week so we can develop my low-tech commination book (known as auditory scanning book). We look at ways of making it user friendly for my communication partners, so I can communicate with as many people as possible. I also like the categories and words to be relevant; for example, having the words that I need to make sentences related to my life. My mum has played a big part in the success of my communication book. She is really supportive, an excellent communication partner and she shares all of the good news that I tell her about.

I communicate by answering yes or no non-verbally to categories that are read out aloud in order. These are also sub-categories, so I am familiar with where all of my words are and can construct sentences by choosing the words that I need.

I recently used my book in a session to communicate my wish to buy a bench in memory of my late uncle who was a massive Newcastle United fan. I used my places category to find ‘Saltwell Park’ to share that he grew up playing around the park and selected the action category  so I could say ‘paint’ and the colours ‘black’ and ‘white’ to request that the bench be painted in these colours. Without the book and speech and language therapy I would have been unable to develop my communication skills, which in return would have reduced the amount of control I had over my own life.

Having limited communication makes me feel isolated and frustrated, so being able to make choices and being socially included has reduced these emotions. Speech and language therapy has had such an impact on my life and the bench is just one example of when my book has had a positive outcome. The bench is almost finished now and I can’t wait to surprise my aunty when it is ready.”