Speakers - Maggie Johnson

Maggie Johnson


Work: 01843 824069 (Fax/ansaphone)

Email: talktalk@compuserve.com


About the speaker
Maggie is a speech and language therapist advisor specialising in childhood communication disorders and selective mutism. With over thirty years experience in education and community settings, Maggie works closely with families and schools in Kent and provides training and workshops for schools, parents and health professionals across the UK and abroad.

Maggie contributed to the Primary National Strategy for children with special educational needs (DfES 2005) and Communicating Phonics (The Communication Trust 2012). Her publications include Helping Children Hang On To Your Every Word and Active Listening for Active Learning (QEd Publications), The Selective Mutism Resource Manual (Speechmark Publishing Ltd), Worry Wheels Anxiety Set (Sense Toys) and Functional Language in the Classroom (Manchester Metropolitan University).


  • Disorders of Language and Literacy - where is the overlap?

  • Order! Order! Developing narrative through self-organisation and awareness of time

  • Making the World a Less Confusing Place

  • Helping Children Hang On To Your Every Word (available in our bookshop)

  • Active Listening for Active Learning (available in our bookshop)

  • Lost for Words

  • Synthetic Phonics for All / Letters and Sounds for the special needs child

  • The Reluctant Speaker: Working with Selectively Mute Children

  • Understanding and Coping with Dyspraxia

  • Creating a Communication Friendly Environment – Nursery? Classroom? College?

  • Functional Language in the Classroom

  • The Here and Now Child

Description of courses

Disorders of Language and Literacy - where is the overlap?

Children with diagnoses of language disorder, autistic spectrum disorder, dyslexia and dyspraxia have as much in common as they do distinguishing characteristics. Maggie offers a unique model of language acquisition which has helped teachers, parents and support workers develop a greater understanding of the complex issues involved in diagnosis, and their role in providing appropriate support. For aspects of assessment, extend to a full day.


Order! Order! (combine with next course for a full day)

Developing narrative through self-organisation and awareness of time

The poor oral and written narrative abilities of pupils with specific language and literacy disorders and dyspraxia are commonly associated with difficulties in general organisation, sequencing, task analysis, planning, following routines, creative play/drama and calendar knowledge. Maggie pulls these various threads together and offers a practical approach to intervention which supports the national Literacy Strategy.


Making the World a Less Confusing Place (combine with next course for a full day on managing behavioural difficulties)
Many children find the world a confusing place and do not seem to respond to reward systems or praise. Perhaps they cannot read the hidden language of non-verbal communication, social behaviour and normal routine that most of us take for granted? Or is fluent speech and rote memory masking significant comprehension difficulties? Maggie considers practical ways to help children make sense of the world by capitalising on their visual strengths.


Helping Children Hang On To Your Every Word (combine with next course for a full day on curriculum access - Getting The Message Across)
If children are opting out, switching off, passively waiting for direction or guessing randomly without focus, we need to find ways of helping them engage by making the learning experience more meaningful and rewarding. Maggie looks at ways of improving attention and concentration, and considers difficulties often masked by inappropriate behaviour.  (available in our bookshop)


Active Listening for Active Learning

A whole-school approach to reducing the confusion & sense of failure experienced by children with comprehension and language processing difficulties by enabling them to take an active role in improving their learning experience and contributing to AfL. Strategies include improving concentration, recognising the difference between guessing and ‘working it out’ and seeking clarification. Often the most immediate effect is seen in improved self-esteem. (available in our bookshop)

Lost for Words (half or full day or combine with next course)
Practical strategies to support vocabulary acquisition, concept development & word retrieval.


Synthetic Phonics for All / Letters and Sounds for the special needs child
The National Curriculum recognises the importance of phonological awareness in the development of literacy. But not all aspects are included, reducing the effectiveness of early input and literacy support for poor readers. This session explores the link between phonological awareness, language development and reading readiness with practical strategies to benefit students of all ages who struggle with phonics.
(Extend to a full day to include support for students with disordered speech pronunciation)


Shyness? Reluctance to Speak? Or Selective Mutism?  (half or full day)

It can be baffling and stressful when children speak only to certain people or in certain situations. This introductory session includes an overview of different patterns of communication and explains how selective mutism (SM) is often mistaken for shyness, rudeness or choosing to be silent. The content is suitable for parents and a wide range of professionals, including those in mental health settings. A twilight/half-day session focuses on informal management strategies for the whole school and family and is appropriate for general awareness-raising or early years settings; while the full day includes more detailed programme planning for school-aged children who have selective mutism.

Understanding and Coping With Dyspraxia (half or full day)
A Speech and Language Therapist’s Perspective

Maggie aims to make you feel dyspraxic in order to appreciate and begin to compensate for the difficulties experienced by children with developmental co-ordination disorder. The session includes consideration of the overlap with disorders of language and literacy and coping strategies for home and at school. These themes can be developed in more detail in a full day, with opportunity for group working and discussion. Please note this course covers body dyspraxia rather than the more specific verbal or articulatory dyspraxia.

Creating a Communication Friendly Environment – Nursery? Classroom? College?
Maggie invites us to consider what brings out the best - and worst! - in us in a learning situation and suggests that often it's the simplest changes that can make the biggest difference to a person's sense of belonging, purpose, enjoyment, success and motivation.

Functional Language in the Classroom (full day)
Practical strategies for identifying and supporting children with specific comprehension disorders on a day to day basis, both at home and in school. Coping strategies are covered in four themes – recognition, active listening, appropriateness and turn-taking. In response to participant feedback, this course is also offered over two days to include time-awareness, organisation and narrative skills. All areas are supported by the course manual ‘Functional Language in the Classroom – and at Home!’ (Maggie Johnson, 3rd edition, 2005).

The Here and Now Child
Many children operate extremely well in the ‘here and now’ where language is linked to concrete experience and all they need is right in front of them. But when poorly developed visualisation skills prevent them linking this experience to past and future events, problems with attention, understanding and behaviour will follow. Maggie presents simple and practical strategies to help achieve immediate improvements.

Length of presentation/s

Full day, half-day and twilight sessions.

Target audience

Parents, teachers, teaching assistants, special educational needs co-ordinators, nursery nurses, playgroup organisers, speech and language therapists and psychologists.

Charges (for academic year 2019/20)

Full day £695

Half day £370

Twilight £295 (in Kent only)

(+ travel charge at 50p per mile and overnight expenses)