After several research and studies on the article speech bubbles, I realised its importance in the community and appreciate the work and efforts of those who have created awareness and have taken the step to put a voice out. From personal experience as a mother, my eldest son went through the phase of stuttering at an early age, he was 2 years old when we noticed that he stutters his words when trying to talk especially when he is excited, at first it wasn’t a big deal because I thought it was normal and his dad said he will grow out of it as he develops his speech, it later became clear to us when his teachers became concerned and advised that he see a speech therapist.
Through several appointments with the speech therapist we realised that it would have been a bigger issue for him to deal with later in the future if it was not addressed then, the effects would have affected his confidence in school and amongst friends and peers. Reflecting on it now and comparing with the research made on speech bubbles and its impact on children who are affected by speech, language and communication, I have now come to terms that I made the right decision by taking the advice of the teachers and not acting out ignorance.
Aside my son, his cousin went through the same issue, but his parents never seek help, they had the mentality that he would grow out of it which was never the case, he had gone worst by the time they started paying attention and seeking help, it has already gotten bad. It knocked his confidence down amongst other children. It slowed down his progress academically when compared to children of his age.
The importance of speech bubble in the society has given much hope to parents who are naïve of the existence of speech, language and communication issues, most people want to be professionals in different fields like doctors, lawyers, teachers and so on but it’s rare to hear people talk about speech and language therapist, theatre practitioners and fields associated with speech bubbles, hence why I have taken much interest in my field of studies which will enlighten me more and expose me to the things I wasn’t aware of. It will benefit the society more and give more support to the programme and project set aside to help those affected.
I can also relate to when I had my second son and was told by the nurses and doctors that they couldn’t detect sound response in his ear, I was worried about it, though there was appointment booked for him to get it rechecked, you could just imagine what was going through my mind as a mother. I was relieved when I found out that he has no issues.
I cannot imagine what the society will be like if this practise is not in place.
Speech bubbles as evaluated by Dr Jonathan Barnes at the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University (Barnes, 2015) is a method of communication that comprises of speech, language and communication intervention that was led by drama practitioners, it was aimed at improving speech, language and communication in selected school children in key stage 1 which in other words are children within the age of six and seven.
The programme takes children from the age of six and seven who have difficulties with their speech and way of communication through a process that uses dramatic representation and expression of their own actual stories as a means of addressing their difficulties. There were different range and methods used in gathering information about the affected children, by collecting data from a wide range of sources such as School records, teachers, parents, speech therapist, drama practitioners, independent observers
Information’s were collected to show increased confidence which will aid ability to speak out and improve relationships amongst referred children. Because of such practise there will be greater participation, better listening, and increased enjoyment. relationships will be improved and there will be motivation and ability to speak out.
The major benefits of the project are improved speaking skills and enhanced language skills amongst affected/ referred children. The programme took actual interest in targeting schools serving areas that are disadvantaged by social and economic in London and north-west England. In accordance to social disadvantages, it was reported that some measures suggest that over 50% of children start school with speech, language and communication need (Locke et al., 2002) which now led to the conclusion that language is clearly a major force for learning and it is so essential and important to a child’s mental, social and intellectual development. It is important that speech, language and communication is considered and intercepted in the early years of a child before it becomes very hard to address which can later be linked massively in the later life with mental illness disorder, it can also have a major effect on unemployment, relationship breakdown and offending as it was reported that Between 60% and 90% of young offenders have an identifiable Speech, language and communication need (Bryan et al., 2007).
Speech bubbles was then projected by the London Bubble Theatre Company also known as (LB) who worked with the support of speech therapists, educational psychologists and Southwark pupil development centre, a 24 weekly practical drama sessions programme was led by the education of work and associate director Adam Annand (AA), usually of 45 minutes, for up to 10 children referred because of their additional needs in Speech, language and communication.
Learning Support Assistants, or sometimes teachers of Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators from the schools follow the group each week and participate fully in all activities. Every participating school is allocated a single theatre practitioner who are trained and mentored by Adam Annand.
There is always a weekly dramatization of children’s own stories with a similar method used in every child story, such as Good listening, kindness, turn-taking, good acting opportunities to invent and practise individual scenes in the story, rehearsal of settings and events in the story, visual reminders about the structure of effective stories, final feedback to an observing teddy bear or other soft toy
Dictating next week’s story by a child to an LSA or the Theatre practitioners
A very good example of this practise is a scenario explained from figure 1, where: Children blow up an imaginary bubble, climb into it, clean it off inside so they can see out, float off into the sky and look down and say what they can see. This shows the extent of how communication can be passed in so many way, communication does not only derive from the speech and language used, it is effective when the person you are trying to pass an information to is able to process the information passed.
It can then be related that speech bubble programme further achieved its aim in success with the evidenced reported in accordance to the support from the Southwark local authority and furthermore the invitations from schools in the northern (Enfield), southern(Greenwich) and eastern (hackney) part of London and Manchester and Rochdale. Repeat requests come from about 80% of participating schools because of significantly improved outcomes for referred children in their school-based assessments.
London bubbles keeps data records on termly basis concerning the outcomes of speech bubbles, it authorised several reports to supervise the progress. According to a proto-speech bubble programme called Speak Out, it was described by a Lewisham speech therapist as: making a statistically significant impact on children’s sentence comprehension, naming of vocabulary, narrative, propositions, and narrative syntax and discourse.
The following are the cause of concerns according to the evidence from the information collected that children who are referred to speech bubbles show some of this behaviour
• low confidence in communicating
• a language delays
• difficulty in organising thoughts and communicating them
• poor listening and poor attention skills
• poor relationships with others.
The practise of speech bubble has gone far and wide within the public through theatre and drama education in the community, it has been embraced positively for example, the National Drama Conference 2011, Worlds Together international arts conference at Tate Modern 2012, the London Drama Conference 2013, and STEPS, Drama in Education conference in 2014. Speech bubble training has reached 20 experienced theatre practitioners and many other professionals involved in education. The speech bubble video has been downloaded over 1,000 times in the past two years and its transferability and appropriateness recognised by theatre practitioners and funders across the country.
Through speech bubbles there has been togetherness amongst children, teachers, parents, practitioners, therapists, it has shown significance improvement in the wellbeing of those referred and has shown awareness to those who are ignorant of the facts that they need to voice out and seek help before it gets worse in the future.
It could be argued that speech, language and communication could be detected earlier before the age of six and seven, but I believe that with the awareness created it wouldn’t go past most people because it’s getting attention across important places, especially schools.
Barnes, J. (2015) Speech bubbles: an evaluation of the 2013-14 extended programme funded by the Shine Trust. Project Report. Canterbury: Canterbury Christ Church University.