My name's Nicola Lathey and, since 1999, I've been fortunate enough to have my dream job - a children's Speech and Language Therapist. My work has taken me to child development centres as far afield as Australia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, but now I am based in Oxford where I run my own private practice, The Owl Centre.
I specialise in working with children under the age of five and have, over the years, helped patients with all sorts of speech, language and communication problems - from babies who aren't yet babbling, to toddlers who are more interested in Thomas The Tank Engine than talking, to children whose speech has been severely affected by their dummy addiction.
I was inspired to become a Speech and Language Therapist after observing the support given to my younger brother with Down's Syndrome. This personal experience of the effects which Speech and Language Therapy can have on children and on their families gave me a real insight into the importance of good communication skills and the difficulties which can emerge if those skills are absent or weak. I have one daughter, Jess, who was born in 2010 and who is definitely a chatty cheeky monkey!
My first book, co-authored with national journalist, Tracey Blake, is called Small Talk, and was published by Macmillan in June 2013. It is a parent's guide for boosting children's speech, language and communication development. Our agent, Elizabeth Sheinkman, has recently found a publisher for Small Talk in the US and the book is due to be released there in April 2014.
I have also written two children's books, Small Talk: Bedtime and Small Talk: At The Park, which are underpinned by speech and language therapy techniques for bedtime reading which is highly focused on developing the sounds and words relevant to the child's age group.
I provide lectures on Small Talk to large organisations with parent programmes, and am happy to receive requests.
Under the brand Small Talk, SLT-approved resources (such as beakers and toys) are in the process of being developed for the international market.
Our website address is www.smalltalktime.com (where you can also find an email address to contact me).
My twitter handles are:
And here is a link to my therapy website, where there is a store for recommended toys to help boost speech and language: