The following article is a personal reflection on becoming an OT expert witness, by...
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BSc (Hons) Speech & Language Therapy, PG Dip Post Basic Dysphagia Training
I qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in 2011. I have previously worked in an adult learning disability team, managing clients with autism, cerebral palsy, multi-sensory impairment, and profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) with complex communication and dysphagia needs. I have also worked in a medium secure mental health hospital providing support to clients with a variety of mental health conditions, as well as those with learning disabilities, brain injuries, progressive neurological conditions and dementia.
I currently work as a Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist within an education establishment, working with children and young adults with a variety of complex needs, empowering them to achieve their full potential. Many of these individuals’ conditions are lifelong and are the result of a birth injury/trauma, and are due to a diagnosis(es) linked to chromosomal/genetic involvement, or they have a disability following an acquired injury. All of these young people experience communication and/or eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties, as a consequence of their complex needs. As part of my role to support them clinically, I work extensively with AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) and lead our dysphagia service. Within this role I have gained a clear understanding of the educational funding, review and monitoring systems as part of the EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plans) process.
In addition, I work independently for The Owl Therapy Centre and Abee Speech Therapy in Gloucestershire and across the UK, working predominantly with children and young people aged 0-25 with a wide range of needs. Within this role I have become skilled at carrying out assessments to support families, schools and Local Authorities for EHCP applications and tribunal cases. Over the past 10 years I have worked to develop and establish an extensive knowledge of assessment and management of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and dysphagia pertinent to a range of client groups; underpinned by a current evidence-based practice.
I have a specific clinical interest in the area of AAC and work hard to continue to stay up to date with this ever-changing fast paced field. I am also a member of a number of clinical excellence networks relating to dysphagia, AAC and complex needs and enjoy completing regular professional development in order to ensure my practice remains up to date and evidence-based.
I accept instructions from both claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses.