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This blog post is brought to you from Sarah Williams, the Speech and Language Therapy team leader for Adult Services here at Autism East Midlands, to share with you all the news that the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy is celebrating their 75th year!

The profession has changed so much in that time but it’s fair to say that we are still relatively unknown amongst the wider community. The old line of ‘are you going to teach me how to talk properly’ is still used so regularly to us all. 1 in 10 people experience Speech, Language or Communication Needs throughout their lifetime meaning that support is needed for areas such as helping them to develop listening skills, understand language, increase vocabulary and use words in sentences, use language in social situations, supporting people who stammer, as well as supporting those who use alternative communication systems such as signs or electronic speech output devices.

The Speech and Language Therapy team at Autism East Midlands work across school, day and residential services to promote the access to the environment as well as provide a holistic view of an individual’s communication profile and the impact that it may have. We are passionate about making an Inclusive Communication Environment where each individual has a voice that is heard, respected and valued for its contribution. That is also why the RCSLT has worked with Communication Matters on the Communication Access project. One of the most exciting developments is the introduction of the Communication Access symbol. This will hopefully be as recognisable in the future as the already familiar symbols for ‘disabled’ ‘visually impaired’ ‘hearing impaired’.

The Communication Access project has worked with a number of different groups including learning difficulties, stroke, brain injury etc. They are working to give a voice to people living with a communication disability by raising awareness, providing training, and through the introduction of a new communication access symbol – they hope to increase confidence and independence in those living with communication difficulties.

Within the chosen symbol the feedback was that they wanted to incorporate the concepts of
-looking
-listening
-understanding
-community

Here at Autism East Midlands we provide a basic introduction to ‘Autism and Communication’ for staff within their induction programme. We work to ensure that our staff have access to the Speech and Language Therapy team to promote the inclusion of all individuals through whatever means of communication they can use. It is an ongoing and evolving role but one we all are passionate about fulfilling to meet the needs of our service users.