Today’s guests on ‘All things Autism” Radio was Lisa Slater
Annas guest on ‘All things Autism’ Women’s Radio was Lisa Slater.
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day, please click here to listen to these amazing shows!
I was very excited to have the opportunity to speak to Anna Kennedy about Paediatric Autism Communication Therapy (PACT) https://www.pacttraining.co.uk on her radio show All Things Autism. It felt very exciting given Anna’s fantastic reputation for raising Autism awareness and her promotion of Autism Acceptance and understanding nationally and internationally. I enjoyed Anna’s company and, despite my initial nerves, felt I could’ve chatted all day 🙂
I also enjoyed the time and space to chat about my speech and language therapy (SLT) career to date and how I came to work supporting autistic children and their families. My hope was that some of the discussion may help families on their journey from diagnosis to therapeutic input.
I currently work within the private sector following my NHS contract finishing at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. A family I was working with asked me to consider working with them independently – it was something I hadn’t considered before and at first made me have a bit of a ‘wobble’ – I had always worked within the NHS.
Since then, however, my private caseload has grown and I value working within the independent sector as it provides the luxury of time to support families to a level I feel can make a difference. The NHS does an amazing job in many areas but unfortunately local budgets do not always allow SLT to be as long-standing and intensive as families sometimes feel they need.
Lisa received her First Class Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Spanish in 2000 and her Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology with Distinction in 2005 from Newcastle University. She has since practised speech and language therapy (SLT) in a number of settings including: mainstream and special schools, the North East Regional Cochlear Implant Programme, community clinics and into family homes. She has also worked as a Guest Lecturer at Newcastle University to SLT BSc/MSc students.
Lisa specialised in working with deaf children for many years and initially began working with autistic children in a specialist charity provision. Her role then involved maximising the communication opportunities for the children and considering ways of integrating therapy targets into the curriculum. She became particularly interested in how to consider the subtle ways that autistic children can communicate and how to optimise this within their environment and people around them.
This is how she became involved with PACT – she immediately became interested as it was an intervention that felt like a good fit to her philosophy of therapy. It involves parents/carers and empowers them to become their own children’s expert and very much supports relationships.
She has been involved within the field of Autism ever since from the point of initial diagnosis to therapeutic input. In 2019, Lisa delivered therapy as part of a randomised control research trial – the Paediatric Autism Communication Trial – Generalised (PACT-G) http://research.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/pactg/AboutPACT-G/ During this time, PACT therapy was delivered to children within their home and schools in parallel to consider how therapy can be transferred across settings.
In 2020, she also delivered parent groups as part of another research study. During this time, Lisa worked with groups of parents of newly-diagnosed autistic children to provide information on how Autism can present differently amongst children including signposting to organisations families may find useful. Many families reported receiving an Autism diagnosis for their child but very limited advice or input followed this.
When Covid-19 restrictions hit the NHS, Lisa’s groups were delivered online which some families preferred as it fitted more easily into the demands of family life.
Online interventions have now become part of everyday working life for many SLTs.
Lisa currently works as part of a diagnosis service, Neurospectrum, specialising in Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) assessment https://www.neurospectrum.co.uk . They receive commissioning from local authority for certain individuals with increasing vulnerability and needs.
Lisa was attracted to working within this organisation as most team members have lived experience of Autism or ADHD. Lisa’s husband has ADHD and has some other family members undergoing a neuro-developmental assessment. Neurospectrum felt like a unique service to work for as it offered compassion to families from professionals with personal experience.
Lisa currently offers private SLT sessions to families delivering a range of therapeutic interventions including PACT. She is part of an SLT collective called Cascade http://www.cascade-therapists.co.uk who came together following their involvement within the PACT team to provide the therapy to families within areas where the therapy is not currently offered within the NHS care pathway.
If PACT is something that interests you contact the main PACT office on email@example.com or the network Lisa works with firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation chat. Therapy can be offered either face-to-face or via video link.
In addition, PACT are co-ordinating a free webinar https://www.pacttraining.co.uk/autism-care-pathway-webinar-2022 which invites professionals, parents and carers to the new Autism Care Pathway Webinar on 26th April 2022. This webinar will be presented by Professor Jonathan Green (Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in the University of Manchester, UK, and Honorary Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Manchester Biomedical Research Centre) and Dr Catherine Aldred, expert consultant SLT whose work formed the basis of 20 years of world-leading research trials and collaborative work.
Lisa is most passionate about empowering parents to recognise their own expertise regarding their child as, along the way, parents can sometimes report feeling overwhelmed by advice from a range of people (including Google!) Due to this, families can lose their confidence in their own knowledge of what might work for their child and family. She always advises parents / carers that ‘nobody knows your child like you do’.
Anna and I share the same ethos of always being kind and promoting anti bullying within the community.