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South Island

<h3>South Island ManagerDevon Millar
<h3>Occupational Therapist</h3>
I am an occupational therapist working for TalkLink in the South Island, and am based in Christchurch. I’ve been an occupational therapist for nearly fifteen years, and have specialised in paediatrics. I rejoined the TalkLink team in 2008, having previously worked for TalkLink in Auckland ten years ago! I worked in London for four years as an occupational therapist in a number of London schools and hospitals. On my return to New Zealand in 2002 I worked in mainstream schools with students with high and complex needs.

As an occupational therapist my role is to assist an individual to enhance their independence with writing, keyboarding, accessing a communication device, and / or environmental control. I am drawn to this field of practise as I believe that when an individual’s abilities and needs are matched with the right combination of technology and support, what may previously have been impossible becomes achievable.

<h3>Speech-Language Therapist<img title=”Paula” src=”” alt=”Paula Daniels” width=”139″ height=”149″ /></h3>
I am a speech-language therapist who first worked for TalkLink in Auckland from 1999 until 2002 where I specialized in assessing clients communication needs and providing high and low technology communication systems. This also involved completing funding applications for equipment and providing training and support for their use when required. While at TalkLink I furthered my experience working with children with communication needs by working part time at Carlson School for Cerebral Palsy.

Prior to joining TalkLink I had worked for 5 years with adults with communication difficulties in hospital, community and rehabilitation settings both in New Zealand and the Uk.

After I left TalkLink in 2002 I moved to Dunedin and then Christchurch with my family. During this time I have worked part time in paediatric settings: Group Special Education in Otago where my caseload was children with very high needs and, Astech in Christchurch where we provided SLT services for children funded mainly through ACC. Most recently I have worked part time at the University of Canterbury as a clinical supervisior for SLT students and provided some lectures for relevant SLT courses.

I am very excited to join TalkLink in Christchurch as a speech language therapist to extend the great service TalkLink has provided in the North Island

<h3>Occupational Therapist<img title=”SimonCooperweb” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”Simon Cooper” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></h3>
I am an Occupational Therapist who joined the TalkLink team in Christchurch early in 2010. Originally from the UK I qualified in 2001 and have had the pleasure of working mainly with adults and teenager with a range of physical health, mental health and learning difficulties. I initially worked in a Learning disability trust before specialising in neurological rehabilitation. Following this I left the UK in 2007 due to itchy feet, desire to travel and eventually settled in Christchurch.

Assistive Technology has always been of special interest to me. Working for TalkLink allows me to draw on my previous clinical knowledge and develop my skills in this area. With the ever advancing technological age, Assistive Technology continues to maximise the potential of the clients in meeting their goals.

<h3>Speech-Language Therapist<img title=”MichelleKingweb” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”Michelle King” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></h3>
Early in my Speech-Language Therapy career, I specialized in therapy service provision for ORS/ORRS funded students age 5-21. The students I have worked with have a wide range of communication abilities. Many have complex communication needs and use a variety of communication systems including assistive technology and/or other forms of AAC.

I value working as part of a cohesive, innovative, therapy team, and enjoy working with families, whanau, educators, support staff, and supporting agencies to facilitate meaningful outcomes to shared goals. I employ a strength-based approach to service delivery with a particular focus on facilitating opportunity, participation and enjoyment across environments.

I am incredibly enthusiastic about joining the Talk Link team. Having written many referrals for technology assessment, and having participated in assessments and device trials, I have experienced firsthand how finding the right device can help communication partners see capabilities and raise expectations of individuals with complex communication needs. I have also seen new technology users realize potential beyond even their own expectations. I am very passionate about continuing to help people to exercise their basic human right to communicate meaningfully with others.

<h3>Speech-Language Therapist<img title=”Pariya Dec09″ src=”×150.jpg” alt=”Pariya Behnami” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></h3>
Prior to joining the TalkLink team in December 2009, I worked as a Speech Language Therapist in an acute hospital setting with clients with a wide variety of neurological and physical disabilities, focusing on assessment and management of their communication and swallowing difficulties. Additionally, I have experience in outpatient rehabilitation with clients in the post-acute phase. I have also completed a BA in Psychology before training as a Speech Language Therapist.

I have had a keen interest in Assistive and Augmentative Communication since university and this has been further strengthened by my experiences with clients on the acute wards. I am particularly interested in the psychological impact of having a disability.

I am looking forward to developing my skills in this specialist area and assisting clients and their whanau in enhancing their communication access. I look forward to working with you.

<h3>Speech-Language Therapist<img title=”Anita” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”Anita McDrury” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></h3>
For the past 6 ½ years as a speech language therapist I have had experience working adults with intellectual disabilities and their support teams with low and high tech strategies for communication, I have worked in a special school with ORRS funded students age 5-21, with ORRS funded students in mainstream classrooms and with teenagers in a special unit at a high school. I have also led regular communication groups for people recovering from strokes.

Prior to completing my SLT training at the University of Canterbury I was fortunate to have a wide range of caregiving experience, with adults with intellectual disability, children with disabilities, and elderly people with a variety of neurological conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia and Stroke. This gives me a good understanding of some of the practical issues facing clients, families and caregivers.

In recent times I have enjoyed working alongside the South Island Talklink team, with several shared clients, learning a lot about assistive technology from this very knowledgeable group. I look forward to continuing to learn more and to using my own knowledge and experience to assist people with communication difficulties to gain the supports for communication which will best suit their needs.

<h3>Speech-Language Therapist<img title=”JackieHancock” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”Jackie Hancock” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></h3>
For the majority of my 15 year career as a speech language therapist, I have worked in the community assisting individuals with communication difficulties to reach their full communication potential.

More recently, I have worked at the Canterbury District Health Board with adults (16 years+) with communication and swallowing difficulties as a result of neurological impairment including; stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease.

A considerable part of my early career involved working with adults with an intellectual disability – this was both challenging and rewarding and sparked my initial interest in assistive and augmentative communication.

I have also had the opportunity to work with pre-school and school-aged children with delayed speech and language development in private practice.

I have a particular interest in supporting people with disabilities to become fully participating members of society through positive and meaningful interactions with others.

Joining the growing Talklink team in November 2011, I look forward to continuing to assist individuals to become effective and successful communicators, by providing assistive and augmentative communication support.

<h3>Office Administrator<img title=”Margweb” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”Margaret Cuttance” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></h3>
I have 15 years of experience working with students who engage with the world using a range of technology. I began working as a teacher’s aide, as part of a highly skilled teaching team, to support and address the learning needs of High and Very High needs students in a special school environment. During this time I began to develop a keen interest in technology and the beneficial impact it often had on the learning and communication of the students I worked with. In 2000, I extended my teacher aide role and put my experience and knowledge of technology to work as the resource and technology support person and therapy assistant at Ferndale Special School and Resource Centre. I Joined the TalkLink South team in November, 2009 as an admin person. I have recently began extending this role to encompass making of resources, as well as programming and troubleshooting of devices, training clients and support people around use of their technology, and general support to the other team members here in the South Island.

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