The Kids Chat 2 You roadshow is underway, with two workshops under our belt and many, many more to come. Kids Chat 2 You is travelling across Victoria (in a large orange van we are struggling to park) and delivering workshops about using communication aids to promote language learning and use. We want to make sure everyone knows what to put in their NDIS plans to get the communication supports they need.

As well as the workshops, we offer Information Consultations.

The most common question I am asked by parents registering for Kids Chat 2 You is “what exactly is a consult?”

A Kids Chat Consultation is an hour where a speech pathologist who has specialised knowledge in communication strategies, sits down and talks with you about your child’s communication.

Typically, we will start by asking “what would you like to talk about?”

Most parents have come in at this point to say –

“I want a visual timetable like Sam has at school, so he knows what we’re doing at home. Sam gets so upset when we change things up on him”,

or less specifically “I want one of those boards you showed in the training that she can talk with”,

or even broader “I just want some ideas of what can help”.

Next we find out what your child is doing to communicate already, so we know their strengths. They may already be using something that we can do more of and this is what we can build on. We also want to know what is causing frustration, such as “She tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants, but I don’t know what that is and she can’t tell me”, or where you feel things have stopped moving forward – “He uses some key signs for the things he likes, but that’s all”.

We love it when you bring your child with you.

If your child comes in and is bouncing off the walls, that tells me something. If she comes and sits with me to look at a book, that tells me something. I like to see how she interacts with you, how you know what she’s saying when a stranger like me doesn’t. This helps me figure out what may work for you at home.

We may play with your child. This allows us to show you how to model a communication aid and what you can expect to see her do in response. If we have a communication aid with us that can help, we may give it to you to take home.

We may design a customised communication aid for your child. If we’ve figured out what will be useful for your child, we can sit down and write out exactly what you want. We’ll decide what words to use, what pictures or symbols to use, how big they should be and how your child will access it. Have a look at our “how to design a communication aid” book for more ideas.

Kids Chat can make all types of communication aids, and nothing is too creative or for us. We can’t prescribe your child a complete communication system, such as a communication book or a PODD book. We may recommend one, but you will need a speech pathologist who knows your child really well to help make that decision with you.

We also love when your therapist, key worker or a support person comes with you. We need to know what is realistic for you at home, because as you’ll know from the workshop, implementing a new communication aid takes time and effort to get the payoff. If you’re a mum with three kids and a job, or if your hands are full coping with multiple medical appointments and dinner to cook, we’re not going to ask the impossible of you. We may suggest a starter communication aid – something that will help you out, and get your child in the habit of using pictures, but not overwhelm you.

Common questions asked during consultations

“Where can I get a speech pathologist?”

“Does she really need a communication aid, she is using some words.”

“Will she use this to communicate instead of words?”

“How do I get her to use the communication book we already have?”

“I don’t think she can have that many pictures at once”

If you’re interested in coming along to a workshop and consult, contact Scope’s Communication and Inclusion Resource Centre (CIRC) at circ@scopeaust.org.au or 03 9843 2000. And if we’re not coming to a place near you let us know and we can see if we squeeze your town in too.