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Logo: Dr Helen Robinshaw | Supporting Familie with Deaf Infants and their Professionals

Services for Families › Overview


Services For Families

  • Initial Contact 
  • Initial Parent Consultation
  • Trial Session
  • Regular Sessions
  • Transition Sessions
  • Parent Consultations
  • SEN Consultations
  • Liaison with your Wider Professional Team
  • Links with Other Families


Initial Contact

Families reach me via a number of different routes:

Following web searches

Through personal recommendation from other families with young deaf children

Referral from other professionals working in newborn hearing screening, children's centres, preschool deaf education, audiology, speech pathology or cochlear implantation

Having met me at meetings or presentations

Whilst e-mail is an incredibly useful tool, a telephone call is often the best way to discuss individual concerns and identify immediate lines of enquiry.  This first call usually gives families a good sense of whether or not they would like to request an Initial Parent Consultation.  It may also open up other lines of enquiry, support groups or agencies that could benefit a family.


Initial Parent Consultation

The first meeting usually lasts about an hour and is free of charge.  It provides us with the opportunity to focus on:

  • Your concerns about your child
  • Your goals for your child
  • Your most immediate questions
  • Your priorities for moving forward

It also gives me the opportunity to tell you a little more about:

  • My working practices
  • If and how I, or other agencies, might be able to help you

At the end of this first meeting you may choose to make an appointment for a Trial Session, leave to think it through further or follow other lines of enquiry.

Trial Session


This trial session is likely to be the first occasion that I have met your child.  More can be achieved during this session if I have first had the opportunity to observe your child on video (VHS or DVD).  If you have a 10-15 minute clip of your child interacting with yourself or with other children that I may watch and analyse before this session, my guidance during the trial session can be more specific.  If I do not have a video clip in advance it is not a problem, I will simply have more to observe on your visit.

During this trail session we play together observing and developing your child's line of thinking and the language that he or she may require modelled.  We will also begin to identify your lines of questioning and the information and skills you and your child need to tackle those issues. See the Approach section for more details about my working practices.

If we conclude that this approach seems right for you and your child then I will recommend you join the programme and book a block of Regular Sessions.  If you or I, feel this approach is not for you then I will try to guide you towards other supporting agencies.


Regular Sessions

A typical session runs for an hour and has been booked in a block of sessions spread across a school term or half-term.  The sessions may occur weekly or fortnightly depending upon your needs and those of your child.  Working in blocks of sessions enables us to be clear about the goals we agree we are aiming to reach within that time frame and about how we can evaluate our success and your child's progress.  We can achieve this on an informal level, just for ourselves, or prepare them as Individual Education Plans that your local education service may wish to share and develop. It's your choice, but either way it helps us keep moving forward at a pace to meet our objectives.

The approach I share with you is discussed in more detail in the section "Approach".  Key elements of the approach include:

  • Parents and principal carers are central to all that occurs.
  • Realising the potential benefits of early identification and amplification
  • Evidence based practice
  • Ongoing diagnosis and prognosis of audition, speech, language, cognition and self-esteem.


Transition Sessions

At some point your child will move on.  This may be because you seek a different approach or move away or, more likely, because your child is ready to increase their mainstream nursery sessions or start school.  Throughout the programme, it is good practice to share Individual Education Plans and maintain a coordinated approach and regular contact with your wider educational team, so any transition should be as smooth as possible for you and for your child.

It is most likely that our shared goal will have been to reach age appropriate language by this time.  The purpose of these sessions is to make sure that your new team understand the approach that has got you to this point and is confident that they may expect and continue to foster age appropriate language and social inclusion. 

The frequency of the sessions will decrease in the months leading up to the transition.  Following the transition families may choose to make occasional appointments as required or book an occasional parent consultation.


Parent Consultations

Parent Consultations are times for you and I to talk frankly without your child present.  This gives us the opportunity to take stock, review what has been achieved over the last few months and to plan for the longer term.

Parent Consultations are particularly beneficial at a number of key times:

  • At the onset of the programme
  • On approximately a six monthly basis thereafter
  • When a change in hearing aids or use of cochlear implant is proposed
  • During an Assessment for Statement of Special Educational Needs and possibly at other times during that process.


Special Educational Needs Consultations

You will receive guidance in the process of assessing and accommodating your child's Special Educational Needs from your local team.  The section below outlines some of the ways we can work together to support that process.

Assessing and providing for the needs of very young children, early hearing aid or cochlear implant users, is a moveable feast.  Very young children often progress at a faster rate than the SEN process.  Your ideas change too as you explore more avenues and monitor the progress your child is making.  SEN Consultations are available to help you:

  • Understand the process of monitoring, assessing and providing for your child's SEN
  • Contribute to that process by focusing your verbal questioning or your written contributions to reviews and assessments.
  • Follow and work through any disagreements or misunderstandings
  • Provide up to date evidence of your child's progress


Liaison with your Wider Professional Team

It isgenerally helpful for us to work closely and co-operatively with your child's local health and education team.  I offer an additional, independent service to you and your child.  The objective evidence that we accumulate over the course of our sessions can be most beneficial to your wider team and the decisions you all have to take to ensure the best possible opportunities for your child.

In some areas, specialist preschool teachers of the deaf are in short supply, and in others, boroughs buy in services from elsewhere.  There are also occasions when reports from independent specialists may be requested.  In such cases, it may be possible for your LEA to purchase my services direct.  Please see Services for Colleagues for more details.


Links with Other Families

Through my research and analysis of parent's perspectives of service provision and from my experience of managing a family centre, I appreciate the importance of families meeting up with each other.  I do not underestimate the strength, knowledge and friendship that can be shared amongst families (in addition to the benefits of the children's peer group).  As my independent practice develops, this is an area that I will be keen to address.

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