© 2024 — Speaking Space (Romsey) Ltd


Autism is one of our core areas of business and a large focus of our work. In January 2019 Speaking Space was awarded Autism Accreditation Advanced status by the National Autistic Society (NAS). Receiving this status meant that we were:

  • The first speech and language service ever to be accredited
  • The first service of any kind to be accredited in Hampshire
  • The first day service in England to receive advanced status.


In 2022 we were reassessed and were pleased to maintain our Advanced Accreditation status. Autism Accreditation is the UK’s only autism specific quality assurance programme of support and development for organisations providing services to autistic people. It proves that an organisation is committed to understanding autism and setting the standard for autism practice.

Here are some of the things that the NAS committee said about us:

  • Speaking Space has carried out significant work to raise awareness of the communication needs of autistic people within the local community.
  • The service has a comprehensive strategy and structure for managing behaviour within the service, this includes a clearly written policy and guidelines for staff and person-centred documentation. Staff were seen to be responsive to the needs of autistic people throughout sessions and adapted their practice accordingly throughout.
  • The approach the service uses to ensure they use an eclectic mix of internal and external speakers for their internal training. This has resulted in a range of highly skilled members within the staff at Speaking Space who will share their knowledge and expertise in formal training sessions.
  • Sharing knowledge both internally and externally is a piece of best practice and will ensure that strategies are shared, and people develop their skills in relation to autism. Speaking Space staff are highly active in sharing their knowledge this also included being encouraged to carry out research and publish books. This has included the redevelopment of the Talkabout assessment wheel, [research on the] impact of the Talkabout social skills programme and an autism assessment that allows users to highlight areas of development for target setting.
  • The consistent approach to a Total Communication Approach is seen regularly throughout the day service where service users are encouraged to communicate in a format which is comfortable to them, whilst also developing their abilities to communicate.


So, what now?

One of our therapy team is currently completing a qualification in sensory integration. We feel that this is an integral part of the work we do supporting individual’s communication needs. We hope to be able to offer a sensory integration service soon, as well as ensuring the Speaking Space team receives regular training in this area.

Learning Disability

A large part of our work is with children and adults with an intellectual disability. We work in a number of specialist schools and FE colleges. Our work in this area is focused on supporting functional communication in order to help people achieve their life goals. This might mean our work in linked of activities of daily living e.g. money management, travel, personal care; vocational studies.

We might support people to achieve this by ensuring the right communication systems are in place for them to manage their lives as independently as possible, This could include developing visual systems, as well as supporting social skills to help people develop friendships and relationships to enhance their quality of life, as well as supporting through interviews, success in the workplace etc.

We support people to transition between schools and colleges and to other local adult services such as our  Day service Speaking Space.

We provide training for staff in all areas of communication such as Makaton, social skills. We also support community projects such as supporting Romsey to become the first Makaton Friendly Town in the UK

Social Skills

Social skills challenges can be part of many people’s lives, and is known to have links with quality of life, academic competence, relationships and mental health. For individuals who would benefit from work on social communication skills, this is an area that we frequently support in a range of settings e.g. SEMH schools, FE colleges, mainstream schools and adult settings.

At Speaking Space we work closely with Alex Kelly , the author of the popular Talkabout series. All of our therapists are trained to run the Talkabout programme and are experienced at implementing it in a number of educational settings, alongside other strategies and resources. This includes assessment, running 1:1 and group interventions, producing evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of intervention, and supporting / training staff.

A bit more about Talkabout

The TALKABOUT series by Alex Kelly is a structured programme for teaching and measuring social skills.

  • A hierarchical approach to teaching social skills: foundation skills are taught prior to more complex skills.
  • Includes an assessment and outcome measures
  • Includes activities and plans of intervention: Talkabout is a scheme of work that is designed to be followed week by week, with plans for your intervention divided into 3 academic terms for anyone working in schools.
  • Suitable for all ages: the different books are designed with a certain population in mind, so that you will use the resource best suited to your client group, from young children (4+) to adults.
  • Suitable to put onto a school curriculum: the Talkabout resources have been written with schools in mind, so that teachers can easily put social skills into their lessons or onto their curriculum.

Proven effectiveness: Talkabout has been proved to be an effective tool for developing self-esteem, social skills and friendship skills and Alex is happy to share evidence from schools who have measured their progress.

Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)

This area of business is expanding in a rather rapid and exciting way for us, due to the ever-growing need for pupil SEMH support in education.

What is SEMH?

There are an increasing number of children and young people who have difficulty managing social interactions; and recognising and regulating their emotions. Those with poor self-awareness, low self-esteem and variable social skills often find it difficult to make and sustain healthy relationships. Their difficulties manifest themselves in many ways, whether it’s becoming withdrawn or isolated, or displaying challenging, disruptive, or disturbing behaviour. Behaviour is often a way of communicating something more significant and ‘these behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression.

It is important to recognise that many children and young people with SEMH needs, also have speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN). These needs often go unrecognised because behaviour can mask their difficulties.

  • 71% have some difficulties with their communication (Benner et al 2002)
  • Between 40% and 54% of children with behaviour problems have language impairment (van Daal et al, 2007, Maggio et al, 2014)
  • Up to 95% of children with Social, Emotional, and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) have been found to have social skills difficulties and 86% have narrative difficulties (Butler et al 2012)


Children and young people with SEMH and unidentified SLCN are more likely to experience:

  • Peer rejection
  • Frustration and misunderstanding resulting from difficulties in expressing their views and perspectives clearly, or in explaining or constructing clear narratives.
  • Problems with emotional literacy, resilience and health and well-being
  • Poor overall educational attainment
  • Challenging behaviour (often leading to exclusion from school or involvement with the Youth Justice System)

60% of youth offenders have a communication disability. 95% have a social skills difficulty (Bryan 2004, Butler et al 2012).

Young people referred to mental health services are 3 times more likely to have SLCN than those who have not been referred (Cited by Bercow 2018)

Early intervention and collaborative working are crucial to improve the life chances of these children and young people. And that is why our input is so important and equally rewarding.

Why is our role so crucial within the area of SEMH?

  • To identify language and communication needs through observation and assessment.
  • To support ‘communication-friendly’ environments.
  • To deliver Staff training and raise awareness of language development, social skills, and emotional regulation strategies.
  • To contribute to innovative and creative practise and specialist therapeutic interventions – focusing on the individual, their abilities, needs and aspirations.
  • To work towards achieving positive outcomes for our children and young people:


Unlocking potential and creating opportunities to thrive in all aspects of their lives.

  1. Developing positive relationships and friendships.
  2. Ensuring emotional stability.
  3. Promoting engaging learning opportunities.
  4. Enhancing resilience and personal growth.
  5. Increasing participation in education, work, and wider society.