Oliver Legrand lives in France and had never met anyone who suffers from a stammer like he does. That was until he came to Leeds last Thursday and met Louis Bennett from Barnsley.
The two 11-year-olds have been working with Leeds-based online speech therapist Mable Therapy.
The online speech therapist helped bring the two boys so that they could bond over their shared love of football and improve their confidence as they cope with their respective stammers.
Oliver, who is from Trosly-Breuil in Northern France, said he was surprised by how much taller Louis is.
Both of them have a stammer and while they usually have therapy sessions online, Martha Currie, founder of Mable Therapy, decided it would help boost their confidence if they met each other.
Working on stammering techniques
Lorraine Bamblett, speech and language therapist at Mable Therapy, has been working with both Oliver and Louis since November last year.
She said: “We’ve been working on stammering techniques and making sure that they feel confident about their stammer.
“I see them every week. I work from home and it’s all online. They’re at home, one in France and one in Barnsley, and we just decided that it would be really helpful for both of them to meet each other because they very much have shared experiences.
“They are both moving onto high school in September and they’ve been working on very similar things.
“I know that Oliver had never met anybody else who stammers before so we thought it would be really helpful for them to meet and hopefully get a bit of a friendship going.”
Both boys share a love of football with Louis supporting his hometown club Barnsley and Oliver supporting Real Madrid and Huddersfield Town.
Ms Bamblett said: “They both have a shared love of football and they’ve had a bit of a giggle about things.
“They’ve actually been helping each other with some techniques today and they seem to have got on really well. It’s been lovely.”
The beginnings of Mable Therapy
Mable Therapy was set up by Ms Currie in 2015. She was previously working as a speech and language therapist for the NHS in London.
She said: “I was a bit stressed out because I had a very big caseload, a huge area to cover of London and not enough time to do it.”
Her partner Elliot Agro, who is a software developer, suggested doing sessions through video. Ms Currie was initially sceptical but soon they had built up a platform and attracted the attention of an angel investor.
Return to Leeds
Ms Currie and her partner then decided to move back to Leeds as one of their software developers was already based in the city.
“I feel like there’s a lot of new ideas coming out of Leeds at the moment especially in the software development field so we wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
The idea of Mable Therapy is to provide a platform that matches pupils with specialists across the country. The organisation works with pupils up to the age of 25.
Convincing other practitioners
“One of the challenges has been to convince other speech and language practitioners that it’s a viable way of doing things with effective outcomes,” Ms Currie said.
Mable Therapy has worked with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists to write the guidelines on telepractice.
Ms Currie added: “Over the last three years things have really been changing and moving forward. People have been coming around to the idea.”
Developing a solution in Leeds
Mable Therapy has 15 staff based in Leeds, including four software developers, marketing and administration staff as well as speech therapists and counsellors.
The business has a further 15 speech and language therapists and 43 counsellors working remotely.
“We usually work in schools but we also have families that work with us as well,” Martha Currie said.
Developers at Mable Therapy have been working on new features and firming up the software’s reporting and outcome measures for schools.