January 2014: Strawberries and cream

Strawberries and cream

Earlier this year I had the privilege of visiting St Raphael’s school where we met many of the extraordinary teachers and motivated students who fill their bright, joyful classrooms. This was the first time we had the opportunity to show our Talk Around It apps to staff at a special needs school and we were delighted by their response.

During that short visit we heard many stories but the tenacity of one teacher sums up the spirit that prevails in the school. Due to factors beyond their control the school had to work without a speech and language therapist for an extended period. However, their teachers refuse to let the children lose out. During that time the teachers continued to work tirelessly to help their charges to improve their ability to speak and understand. One of these teachers is Catherine; an energetic and dedicated woman who introduced us to a teenage boy, new to the school but already looking and feeling at home. He wanted to say “strawberries and cream” but he found it difficult to start the phrase; so with the best intentions, his teacher emphasised the “straw…” in “strawberry”. As a result the eager young man started to say “srrawwwwberries”. When she saw our Talk Around It app she was both excited and relieved that she now had a resource, based on accepted speech and language therapy exercises, that they can use with confidence every day.

Her response filled me with pride and a renewed sense of urgency to work harder. I knew that we could make a difference in the lives of people, like my husband Steve, who have word finding difficulties as the result of a stroke or brain injury. But here was an opportunity to improve life for others with many different levels of ability. Then Catherine handed us a large volume, “do you realise” she said, “that this is the first app we have found that ticks all the boxes on our check list for the ‘Learner Objectives’ we set down in line with the educational curriculum?” As soon as we heard this we started working through the curriculum guidelines to ensure that the apps we are currently developing will be just as valuable and relevant to the people who need them. We hope to collaborate with this marvellous school and others to enhance the lives of people living with a wide variety of challenges.

While I sit at my desk, I often look beyond my computer screen into those hope-filled classrooms. Instead of hearing the tapping of numerous keyboards around me, I am listening to a charming young man practising the words “strawberries and cream.”


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