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ASSESSMENTS ASSESSED / IN BRIEF

In Brief...
Wonderful treasures

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Assessments Assessed
Measures of Childrens Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing Ed. Norah Frederickson and Sandra Dunsmuir GL Assessment ISBN 9780708719107 400.00 This portfolio of eight booklets for education and health professionals aims to provide a comprehensive package to measure the psychological health and wellbeing of children. The importance of positive mental health is recognised widely and government education and social policy has wellbeing as an integral part. This portfolio is designed to support professionals who work with children to meet their responsibility to account for wellbeing. The measures allow staff to design and implement work in their area and then to measure the outcomes. In addition to two overarching measures, The Childrens Global Assessment Scales and Target Monitoring and Evaluation, topics covered are:
Topic Belonging Distress Enjoyment Healthy Living Resilience Responsiveness Social Behaviours No. of Measures 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 Ages 4-18 2-18 8-18 4-adult 7-18 6-13 5-20

The majority of my work is with teenagers, usually in groups or 4 or 5. They have a range of complex language and social communication difficulties and one of our targets is to try and enable them to work together as part of a team more effectively, with all the skills which this entails. Finding interesting resources to work in small groups with the focus on communication has always been difficult, but then I started to look at the resources for teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) and discovered wonderful treasures! Amongst these was a series called Communication Games by Jill Hadfield. There are 4 books in the series and I use the intermediate one for my secondary school work. The games are aimed for use in small group or even pairs as well as some larger group activities. Each activity is introduced with details of the group size required, the function practised and the vocabulary covered. The games are fun and innovative. Take for example The queue, where there are 30 cards describing the people in a queue to buy theatre tickets. Each member of the group has some cards and between them they have to work out the order of the queue, without letting each other see their cards. A sample card would read: You wrote postcards to pass the time. The person in front of you had a heavy suitcase. The person behind played the guitar. Other games are entitled Ideal Homes where you match wacky people to wacky houses, The Detective Game and How to get out of doing the washing up! There are 40 games with all the resources required to photocopy and all for less than 35.00. Sheina Stockton is an independent speech and language therapist in the Worcester area. Intermediate Communication Games by Jill Hadfield is published by Nelson, ISBN: 978-0-175-55872-8. ADVERTISEMENT

Each topic specific book follows the same clear, concise and straightforward structure: description of topic; theoretical frameworks (linked to latest research and government plans); description of measures (good technical and strategic data including norms); from assessment to intervention; references; specific photocopiable measures in each area. The pack will support evidence based practice and practice based evidence, together with measurable goal setting approaches. It underlines assessment as just a snapshot of any individual or group, and promotes intervention as the way to support children and young people. It will help us measure our intervention and ideally what works and what adjustments are required. While it is common sense, it is refreshing and reassuring for us to be reminded that success is measured in improving young people rather than counting how many have we seen in the last given number of weeks. I have road tested several of the measures, selected at random, and found them easy to use. They are fit for purpose and could easily be used in a variety of settings. Some may require adaptations to account for comprehension and / or literacy problems. An important role for speech and language therapists within this whole field is to adapt any materials to account for communication support needs. The pack is very easy to use. It would be possible to use all measures but more likely and indeed useful to clinicians to select them as required. I agree with the strong message in the pack that we must resist the idea that any one item is the be all and end all; we should continue to rely on clinical skills and judgement and interpret our findings in context. A really useful table at the beginning of each topic specific booklet provides, at a glance, information on aims, areas targeted and age range. This should aid the clinician in the selection of the appropriate measures. Although information on administration time is contained in each book, it would have been helpful also to have it in this table. This would be a useful addition to a departments toolkit of resources. It is relevant to the everyday work of a CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) team or anyone focusing on mental health. Mental health and psychological wellbeing is a developing area within our profession and is of concern to all speech and language therapists. The pack can be used at all stages of experience and development of practice. Assistance in the interpretation of results will be required depending on experience. It is expensive, but contains 44 measures all packaged ready for use. Sandra Polding is a specialist speech and language therapist and RCSLT Adviser in Paediatric Mental Health.

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SPEECH & LANGUAGE THERAPY IN PRACTICE SUMMER 2010