Sally Dickens MSc MRCSLT Speech & Language Therapist in Essex

Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) - ASD and Mental Health Masterclass - 20.04.18

My specialism in selective mutism includes work with children and teenagers who are autistic as well as having features of selective mutism. The combination of these difficulties can have a significant impact on emotional wellbeing. I was therefore keen to attend this study day to develop my knowledge of mental health issues in children and young people with autism. The speakers, from Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, gave a comprehensive overview of mental health issues for individuals with autism. The talks on assessment and intervention provided new perspectives for working with children and young people with autism.

Orb8 Therapeutic Mental Health Services – September 2017

I am pleased to be an associate at Orb8. This new organisation provides multi-disciplinary therapeutic mental health services for traumatised, hard-to-reach children, young people and young adults who have complex difficulties. My role is to provide speech and language therapy assessments and intervention for clients with additional communication needs. Orb8’s highly experienced team also provide training and consultation to other organisations. See their website:

Selective Mutism Clinical Excellence Network – study day - 21.04.16

I attended this first study day for the new Network. It was helpful to meet with other therapists who support clients with selective mutism and to hear the range of approaches that are used. We are eagerly awaiting the new edition of the Selective Mutism Resource Manual (Maggie Johnson & Alison Wintgens) which will be published later this year.

National Clinical Excellence Network in Disorders of Fluency – study days with Kathleen Scaler Scott – 13/14.07.15

Dr Scaler Scott is a leading expert in cluttering and stuttering from the USA. She presented very practical suggestions for working with clients who have cluttered speech. She also discussed ideas for working with clients who stutter and have other difficulties such as autistic spectrum conditions. This included a helpful account of atypical dysfluencies which are different to stuttered speech and are increasingly coming to the attention of speech and language therapists.

Auditory Processing Disorder – West Essex ASLTIP Group Study Day – 15.05.15

Emma Whiting (Speech & Language Therapist and Audiologist) and Josephine Marriage (Clinical Scientist in Audiology) from the Children’s Hearing Evaluation and Amplification Resource gave a clear explanation of the features of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and management strategies from the audiological perspective as well as illustrative case studies. Maggie Vance from the University of Sheffield presented an overview of ‘Speech Perception Deficits in Children with Language Impairment and/or Dyslexia’. This covered issues such as the controversies over the diagnosis of APD and a review of the effectiveness of intervention programmes. The speakers described how APD in children coexists with other developmental disorders (for example, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and Specific Language Impairment). The course provided an excellent opportunity to update on current issues in (APD) with experts in the field.

Supporting the Pupil who has Experienced Significant Relational Traumas and Loss - Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) East Anglia Branch Conference - 13.03.15

I have a longstanding interest in the links between emotional difficulties and communication problems in children and adolescents. This was the topic of my MSc research and over the years I have tried to keep up-to-date with issues in child and adolescent mental health. Having read a lot of Louise Michelle Bomber’s work I was keen to hear her speak at a local ACAMH study day. Louise vividly describes the distress of pupils who have experienced attachment difficulties through traumas, losses and neglect. She provides very practical ideas for supporting these pupils to enable them to learn in school. Many of the strategies are helpful not just for those with troubled early lives but also for pupils with a range of communication difficulties.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech - Study day with Caroline Bowen - 29.09.14

I had attended Caroline Bowen’s Speech Sound Disorders course in 2011 and was eager to hear her lecture again. Caroline‘s knowledge and experience of speech sound disorders is respected across the world and she is renowned for her generosity in sharing her expertise and resources with others. Current clients may already be familiar with using materials from her brilliant website. The course updated me on the latest research on Childhood Apraxia of Speech or Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (as we call it in the UK) and provided a wealth of therapy ideas.

Children and Families Act 2014 - New Special Educational Needs Framework - 09.07.14

Parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) and everyone involved in SEN provision will be waiting to see the impact of the new Code of Practice. I attended an Essex County Council update to learn about the changes taking place. There will be much greater collaboration between Education, Health and Social Care. The aim is to provide a graduated response to special educational needs and a greater focus on outcomes. Under the new framework, speech and language therapy will remain an educational provision. I aim to keep up-to-date with the changes taking place so that I can offer the best guidance to parents.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy with Children, Young People and Parents - 12.06.13 -13.06.13

I took part in this training at the Michael Palin Centre in London. I had already been introduced to solution focused therapy and had been reading about it and using it in my work. This course enabled me to explore the method in more detail. Speech and language therapists who use solution focused techniques, usually use them alongside our other clinical procedures. A solution focused approach makes the most of the client’s own strengths and resources. It enables me to assist clients in finding solutions to their (or their child’s) difficulties as swiftly as possible.

Camperdown Program for Adults who Stutter: One day workshop - 20.05.13

Sue O’Brian from the Australian Stuttering Research Centre, University of Sydney, provided this training which was organised by the RCSLT special interest group for fluency disorders. The Camperdown programme is a fluency enhancing treatment which can be used for adolescents over 12 years, as well as adults. Training in this technique adds to the range of intervention methods that I can offer.

Book launch: “Stammering Therapy from the Inside – New Perspectives on Working with Young People and Adults” Editors: Carolyn Cheasman, Rachel Everard & Sam Simpson: 09.05.2013

I attended this event at the City Lit in central London. The day was filled with inspiring talks. People who stammer talked about their experiences of stammering and therapy. Expert speech and language therapists from the UK discussed aspects of therapy. Professor Walt Manning from the University of Memphis was enthusiastic about the innovatory methods described in the book. Ed Balls MP, Shadow Chancellor, spoke candidly about his fluency difficulties. The book is a brilliant resource for therapists and is sure to be of value to people who stammer. The whole day highlighted the variety of approaches available for supporting people who stammer.

Keeping in touch via Skype - 29.01.2013

It’s important that you, the client, get the most out of therapy sessions. This means that not only can you make progress as quickly as possible, but you are also keeping down the costs of therapy. I always aim to ensure that clients are confident about strategies they can use outside the clinic. You can keep in touch between sessions by phone or email. This is especially important if there’s something you’re not sure about. More recently, some clients have found it helpful to talk on Skype. A few minutes on Skype can, for example, help to pinpoint something to focus on in your speech practise before the next session. It’s a useful addition to the tools available in therapy for some clients.

Colchester Daily Gazette – Feature on Stammering – 30.10.2012

Journalist Emma Palmer contacted me to discuss stammering. She wrote an article about Scroobius Pip, Essex rapper and poet who has a stammer. The article also featured information about stuttering and speech therapy. Under the headline “Therapy bringing new hope for people suffering from stammers”, the feature included some issues from our discussion about positive changes in attitudes towards stuttering and the helpful impact that therapy can have on dealing with the emotional aspects of stammering. The article also provided readers with information about my practice.

Cluttering Assessment and Treatment – Study days with international expert Yvonne van Zaalen – London - 11.10.0212 – 12.10.2012

Cluttering is a fluency disorder which is characterised by a lack of control over a rapid speech rate and problems with speech intelligibility. I took part in this training programme which provided state-of-the-art information and the latest research about the diagnosis and management of cluttering. Yvonne van Zaalen, Director of the Communicative Assessment and Technology Centre at Fontys University, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, is an internationally respected expert on fluency disorders and Coordinator of the International Cluttering Association. Yvonne is an inspirational speaker who aims to put cluttering (an often neglected disorder) “on the map” across the world and to develop protocols for speech and language therapists to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder.

Click here to read more about my skills and experience.

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