The Power of Poetry

There’s something about creative expression, whether that’s through poetry, music, dance, film or art, which speaks to people and reaches their emotions far more than any report, figures or statistics can ever do. That’s certainly been the case with the poem I wrote recently about the role of speech and language therapy, which seems to have struck a chord with all kinds of people. A week after posting it, it’s been shared/like/retweeted thousands of times, with SLTs (currently practising and retired therapists and students yet to qualify) sharing my frustration that our wonderful profession is misunderstood, misrepresented, underappreciated and underfunded.

More importantly, it has provoked a response from hundreds of people who have cause to be grateful to SLTs or whose lives are being adversely affected by long waiting lists and patchy access to SLT services. I am collating these responses and will share them with our Health Secretary and Shadow Health Secretary, in order to show them just what SLT services mean to people and the devastating effects on people’s life chances and quality of life when they are denied access to them.

Here is my poem and just some of the many moving and heart-felt responses. Please take the time to read them.

SLT poem (2)

Children and Parents

Oh this made me all tearful. We have certainly seen cutbacks in our area. M has had SALT intervention for both feeding and communication and he struggles greatly in both areas but we don’t have regular appointments in fact he doesn’t currently have a named speech and language therapist. I know that M would have plenty to say if he could.

So true – the devastating cuts to vital health & social care services meant nearly an 18mth wait for my child to start vital speech & language therapy at the time she entered school. I was lucky to have the option to move cities in order for her to start treatment & 4yrs later her speech development has massively come on – which probably wouldn’t have happened if we’d stayed. Not everyone is so fortunate.

It’s so frustrating ..the waiting list is ridiculous the number of children with SLC needs is rising rapidly with no or little support available..parents and schools are struggling and so frustrated .A poem which resonates with myself and my little one very much, thankyou.

This honestly just made me cry. You can not understand or know the true value of speech and communication until you know how hard it is when it doesn’t quite work as it should. It’s heartbreaking beyond all belief to watch someone you love not be understood, unable to express themselves, paralysed by an inability to actually speak and break down because they know they are different and “not like the other kids”. We’ve battled for years on this and we’re going to be battling for years to come. SALT needs more resources because the system isn’t working and that’s not the therapists fault but it’s like all of the NHS, under too much strain. Please share this poem in the hope that someone in power will see the true detriment of what’s going on and how lives are being affected.

Absolutely invaluable. .. fantastically written. .. my 3 year old is in need of this service and her confidence and progression is immense since she has started to communicate. … miles to go yet but could change this little girl’s life forever. Well done to you all.

Waiting on N’s third speech therapy assessment – this is a year now and no treatment or anything just more and more referring.

As a mum of a non-verbal autistic child – this made me tearful – so, so true – such a valuable service for many!

I know how important SALT are to us that are hard of hearing and more so as bubs has cerebral palsy and struggled with lumpy foods. Still non-verbal, only makes sounds and he’s 2 next Monday. Also my mum had a stroke so she needs help with her speech and swallowing… Not forgetting the lovely lady I got to see when I was assessed for a cochlea implant. I know how much she fought my corner as I was just over the NICE guideline by about 5% but she did it! I finally started my journey to better hearing. Keep up the fantastic work you all do!! That’s if the government don’t stop penalizing us disabled with more cuts.

Services everywhere are being cut to the bone, waiting times are months sometimes years long and a regional lottery of what services are available full stop. This explains so well, just how vital Speech and Language therapists are.

Speech therapists did so much for J when he was younger and had to attend a language unit 2 days a week and also helped L with her husky voice due to nodules in her throat she may one day need removed let’s hope they don’t cut the service many people may need.

In my family, a SALT therapist helped a child with eating problems. What they deal with is far wider than we realise. There are people out there who can’t even express that they are thirsty, or who are so traumatized they have stopped speaking, and can’t tell you what happened to them, or how they feel. Social media is a great communication tool.. but imagine you couldn’t use that, or anything, not even your gob…to tell people what you need, let alone want.. Cutting funding to any service is disgusting … give people their right to communicate.

Schools need Speech therapists to help children make sense of their day! Very valued but under funded resource!

We’ve been lucky in that we have been able to access S&L specialist support for our children, and we still continue to get this therapy for the ones that still need it. The need started at age 6 months, with a baby unable to suck or use her mouth in a productive feeding way. This need continued as the baby grew and was diagnosed with a severe speech and language disorder, then ASD. Through this support and many other teams my child grew and developed at her own rate. She still requires some language modification support, but is going to uni In September to eventually gain work within the NHS. None of this would have been possible without the specialist therapies she was able to have access to. Massive thank you to all the therapists out there, you do an amazing job that actually change lives.

Soooo true- s&l therapists are angels in my mind, you guys open up the doors for so many children.

I’ve had three of my children need speech therapy. The first had difficulties in hearing the correct sounds made when speaking and reproducing them when talking and writing, she had excellent help. My second child stammered, the referral took ages as the speech therapist only came to the school every other term because of cut backs. The first appointment was like a workshop for 20 mins with what was meant to be a term of weekly sessions, they managed to set up one and that was it. The difference in service had already changed drastically in 3 years (7 years ago). We had to struggle together to help her. She still occasionally has the stammer but it took us a lot of work. Our third child also had an occasional stammer we asked for help again and it was months before they came back to us with an appointment despite chasing them. The appointment was months down the line and by the time it came close they cancelled. They ended up making and cancelling a couple of times. We gave up and just used what we learned previously. These cutbacks have been harsh for years I dread to think what it is now like 4/5 years later. This is a much needed service and many have been left to get on with it and muddle through in the hope that things will be ok. Having a child who cannot speak confidently and clearly is heart wrenching and holds them back in so many ways.

Vital service for many, communication is a basic need in life, you simply will struggle without it, unfortunately too many therapists going down the private route knowing people with pay for it.  We pay £45 a fortnight for the speech therapist to go into our daughters school who has Down syndrome. Has she made progress yes she speaks very well, which will pay dividends in years to come, we’ve paid for this since she was 2, she’s now 8. It’s wrong we’ve paid when so much money in the public sector is wasted.

This is so true, and heart-breaking. I am witnessing it at Pre-school…. 2 – 4 year olds being denied basic rights because of (unelected) Government cuts…

I’m in tears! I work w/2-4 year olds, & we as educators are expected to do more than we are capable of, all round! Asked our EYIO for help – “It’s online!”

My child  (and therefore all of us) benefited from SLT – a much needed service.

A brilliant poem about a service which has made life easier for a lot of parents with children with speech and Lang. difficulties.

As an Early Years Setting we can certainly vouch for the amazing work SLTs do every day with our young children and their families.

Great poem. My son has autism. He has assessment after assessment regarding his speech. Yet no therapy for it, even though at age 6 he still can’t speak properly. We are told it’s because the therapists are too stretched. It’s frustrating to say the least.

We would have been lost without the amazing speech and language professionals who have worked with T. I’m currently having to do signing training myself with the staff where T goes to respite as the NHS can’t provide any support as they have so little funding. It’s not the team’s fault, it’s the constant budget cuts and increasing workloads and more and more children needing help and no adjustments being made in planning to deliver services. Yet another way of stripping the NHS and undervaluing the amazing staff who work there.

Yep, my 7yr old simply doesn’t get the professional input he needs. Relying on Teaching Assistants to deliver a wide spectrum of health (and other) services is not an acceptable model.

Speech therapy needs funding for all our futures.

Adults

Two of the best moments in my stroke recovery were passing my swallowing test so I was allowed to drink water and getting a valve fitted in my tracheotomy tube so I got my voice back (a cool robotic voice at that), great poem.

My SALT has been the only person I know I can pick up the phone and the person on the other end will just get what I’m talking about. She was my first contact 18 months ago and she’s been the only solid input since.

I am quite likely to need this service, as time goes by as I have MS. Please read it as it’s quite ‘brilliant’..

My husbands Speech therapists have been his Saviour since he had a Laryngectomy 3 years ago yesterday . They are wonderful people FUND THEM.

We frequently instruct SaLTs to help us understand our adult client better and help them express their feelings independently. (From a Lawyer)

Oh so, so true. As a teacher who lost her voice for nigh on ten weeks, this is so true. Two days after seeing the speech therapist and learning that I could carry on my job, with a little patience and some exercises, I had my voice back. An invaluable service.

I can remember having SLT as a child in late 1960’s/early 1970’s, after losing my hearing, acquiring a severe lisp & difficulty saying any words starting with “S”… very grateful they really helped my speech!

I needed help from a speech therapist in my early school days. To say the profession is invaluable doesn’t do it by half. I never had the chance to thank my therapist properly. So, by proxy, thank you for giving me my chances in life.

Two family members have received this help. Outstanding. Little recognised!! Until it’s YOU who needs us!!

I had to use this service as an adult. Life would have been so much poorer in many ways without their help.

I can’t wait for my appointment to start speech therapy. I have had virtually no voice for 6 months. There is a physical reason but it is so isolating. So many wee throw away comments are not now possible. By the time I have repeated it half a dozen times it has lost any meaning. Most people are patient but the other day I was in a shop, asked for what I wanted and the assistant turned to the women beside her and said” what did she say she wanted”. It took all my control not to burst into tears. If a speech therapist can give me back even some of my life, it would be wonderful.

Thank goodness I was born when there were no cuts etc. I am very grateful and thankful that my mum took me for speech therapy for several years. I had cleft palate so this service was vital to for me. Others should have this facility too so come on Mister Health Minister find some money for it!!!!

So true. My husband has had cancer and they have been invaluable in helping him learn to swallow. He now enjoys his food.

My Dad has been ill for many years, unexplained shadows on lung, sickness etc and to and fro from specialists with no definitive answer. Then his voice started to fail and he was referred to a speech therapist who is coming up with the answers and treatment. Acid reflux has destroyed half his vocal cords and part of his throat. She has sorted out a diet for him and got him on the right drugs. It now also looks as though his changing lung shadow may be caused by stuff getting in his lung due to his damaged throat. My Dad says his speech therapist has changed his life and definitely saved his voice. Brilliant work and the doctors really need to learn from them!

I lost my voice a few years ago. The speech therapist was incredibly helpful. (I got my voice back after seeing him). Services should be properly funded so everyone can access them, regardless of income or background.

An amazing poem. I’m on the autistic spectrum and went to a speech and language therapist when I was four years old because I had delayed language development. SLTs and what they do to help people is incredible.

Can’t thank my Mum’s SALT team enough for what they did for her in the weeks/months following her stroke. They didn’t just help her with her aphasia, they helped with her swallowing and helped us as a family be able to understand and communicate with her too.

Thank you. For Gil, who gave me my voice back…

Very true .. My husband was helped with his speech after surgery on his tongue after cancer treatment. Thank you!

I want to say thank you to you all, cos with you my mum wouldn’t have been able to talk after her first stroke

Role of Speech and Language Therapists

Literally cried. We’re so passionate about our jobs & the families & young people we work with & about the quality of service we deliver. It’s just getting harder & harder to provide what we’d love to.

People never really get what a SLT does, the amount of times people have said to me “oh I better speak properly, how now brown cow”.. worth a read.

I am very proud to be part of a profession that works so passionately to do the best for people, despite all the pressures it faces.

Brilliant poem, as a mum of a speech therapist and once upon a time worked one to one with deaf children, I know just how hard you all work, and it’s time people in the right places did too. You are amazing.

Should be called communication specialists. They are amazing.

A poetic tribute to a profession I’ve been involved in for over 25 years.. proud to be part of S&LT .

We need more speech and language therapists. You all play such a vital role especially in stroke care.

Thank you. After a disheartening day this has reminded why I still love my job, even after 21 years!

Brilliant, love being an SLT! What a great way to show the scope of our role . We certainly need more of them.

I never realised how much SALT do until my little cousin could not speak at all whilst the same time one of our elderly residents were getting assessed by SALT too on her swallowing, only because I was in both settings did I realise how much you guys do, very well written.

Terrific poem. From a retired SLT who still misses the job. SLTs make a real difference to real people.

I love this poem so much! Incredibly proud to be a speech therapist in the making – not just my future career/profession but also my absolute passion.

I’ve worked with quite a few SLTs and spoke to them 1:1 on a level. The amount they do and go through is crazy. People assume they just help with minor speech problems or speech delay but it’s so much more than that!

Very eloquent and all of it true. I was a head and neck cancer nurse for most of my 10 year career so I know the value of speech therapists very well.

Thank you for a great poem, and also for explaining the range of your work. I didn’t know the half of it!

Great way of explaining all a speech and language therapist does – brilliant people.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Power of Poetry

  1. Hi Stephanie. I am a Therapist in Shropshire. Would you be ok if I shared your poem on my Blog? Of course I will acknowledge it is your poem….I couldn’t begin to have written it….well done you…. a fabulous poem that encapsulates our professional input. Victoria

    Like

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