Learn about our Therapists

Sonya Gaffney

Supervising Senior Speech and Language Therapist

Sonya Gaffney, Supervisory Senior Speech and Language Therapist

B.Sc., P. Grad. Dip., M.Sc,

Sonya is a dual qualified Speech and Language Therapist and Board Certified Behaviour Analyst. Sonya completed her undergraduate degree in Clinical Speech and Language Studies in Trinity College Dublin. Sonya then went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma and a Masters degree in Applied Behaviour Analysis in Trinity College Dublin.

Sonya has over 9 years experience working with people with disabilities in a variety of roles in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Sonya has worked with people with Down Syndrome, Intellectual Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Speech, Language, Communication and Swallowing disorders and behaviours of concern. Sonya has worked with babies, children, teenagers and adults. Sonya has experience working with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Sonya has worked as a clinician and a manager, both as a Speech and Language Therapist and a Behaviour Analyst. Sonya has worked in a variety of settings including clinics, mainstream and special schools, and people’s homes.

Sonya has additional professional certifications including Làmh, Hanen, PECS, SOS approach to feeding, Cervical Auscultation, Makaton, Talking Mats, Social Stories, LAMP, TAGteach(r), Supervisor Training, Behaviour Support, Team Leading, Organisational Behaviour Management. Sonya has also engaged in and delivered many other professional training during her career. Sonya is committed to continuing professional development and ensuring she is up to date with evidence based practice to support the individuals she works with. Sonya also has extensive experience working within a Positive Behaviour Support framework.

Sonya is registered with Coru and is also a full member of the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists (IASLT) and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT). Sonya is also registered with the Behavior Analysis Certification Board and is a member of the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis. Sonya is a member of a variety of SIGs and has set up and continues to run a SIG with colleagues in the United Kingdom.

Sonya strives to work in a person and family centred way, ensuring that the person attending the service and their families are at the centre of her practice and are actively involved in determining their goals and intervention. Sonya aims for her support to enable the person to function effectively in their daily life and for all intervention to be relevant and appropriate for that individual and their families.

Claire Downes

Speech and Language Therapist

Margaret Farrell

Consultant Speech and Language Therapist

Margaret completed her under-graduate training in Trinity College, Dublin in 1982 and received her Post-Grad from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists for Clinical Specialisation in Intellectual Disability. She completed her Masters in Universtiy College London in Human Communication with research in conversational repair strategies with children with Down Syndrome in conversations with mothers, and received an MA from UCD in Health Service Management.

Margaret has worked in health and education in Ireland and Canada for over 30 years in a variety of roles, as a practising SLT (speech language therapist) in disability, autism and other services, mainstream and special settings, all ages and levels of intellectual disability, as SLT Manager, Clinical Manager, managing National Quality of Life survey of people with disabilities project. She joined Voices for Down Syndrome Galway in February 2011. Margaret also works with Down Syndrome Ireland, Kildare Branch.

"I am passionate about promotion of effective and functional communication with people with intellectual disabilities, supporting people to exercise their right to be heard, to enable them to be confident in making their voices heard in their communities - be it in the playground, classroom, shop, restaurant, with friends and family, workplace, college and so on. While speech is the preferred means of communication in our world - and always the primary aim of speech and language therapy, other means are also valid and accepted ways of getting your message across - such as writing, natural gesture, formal sign, pictures, photos and symbols, text messages, skyping, iPod/iPad etc. If we don’t know the language in another country, we all find ways to get our message across.

I always strive to work in collaboration with the person with the communication need, that is, with the child/young person and their whole family, with the adult directly, and with the person‘s consent I link with supporting the person in school, work, training centres, other SLT’s and clinical people. It is important to work together in goal setting and working on agreed targets together, in various realistic settings, which will always include ‘homework’ too! We also need to evaluate ‘how things are going’. The clinical setting is an an artificial setting and in order to make real progress in communication, the skill must be practised regularly and used in real ordinary places - at home, in the playground, work place etc."

Continuing Training & Seminars : Recent seminars run by Down Syndrome Ireland on Core Vocabulary, Auditory Bombardment, Augmentative Communication Seminar and Update, Down Syndrome World Congress, IASSID, Speech Processing, ASHA Convention.

Affiliations : Member of Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Secretary of Outcomes Network of Ireland, Board Member of LAMH Signing System, LAMH Tutor, member of Special Interest Groups of people with Down Syndrome, Children with Intellectual Disabilities, and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities. CORU registered.

Julie Holmes

Speech and Language Therapist

Julie Holmes, Speech and Language Therapist , BSc, MSc.

Julie qualified as a speech and language and language therapist undergoing a masters degree at Newcastle University. Prior to that she completed an undergraduate degree in social studies at Trinity College Dublin. She is a professionally qualified social worker and worked in this area for a short period prior to training as a speech and language therapist.

Julie is an experienced clinician working with children with a range of speech, language and communication needs. She has many years of experience in autism, intellectual disability, developmental language disorder (DLD), Down syndrome, speech and language delay, phonological delay, dyspraxia, social, emotional and mental health difficulties. She started her career working for the NHS in children centres, child development centres, schools and clinics across Newcastle and then in London. Working as a specialist speech and language therapist Julie is experienced in providing supervision for other SLTs as well as developing specialist areas including early language development, autism, and speech sound disorders. Julie also has experience in developing and delivering training packages for parents and for other professionals.

Julie believes strongly in multidisciplinary team working. She has worked alongside occupational therapists,physiotherapists, psychologists, doctors, nurses, and teachers to both assess and provide therapy for children. She strongly believes in working together as professionals to achieve the best outcomes for children. She is also interested in how we can utilise technology to support children and currently provides speech and language therapy online for schools and families in the Uk. Julie has also delivered online training to SLTs and written various blog posts.

Julie is a passionate SLT who loves working with children and their families. She believes every child has the potential to develop their communication skills and works from a strength based prospective. She works in partnership with parents to strive to provide therapy that is fun and individualised to the child and meets families’ needs.

Julie has joined the team at Voices for Down Syndrome Galway to support the delivery of the Little Owls early intervention group. She is working in partnership with the community nurses to deliver the group, which has successfully been running for 20 years.
Julie has completed additional training in many areas including Hanen, speech sound disorders, Nuffield training for Dyspraxia, interventions for stammering (Lidcombe and Palin Centre), Attention Autism, ADOS assessment, DIR floortime, Basic Sensory Integration, PECS, Clinical supervision and practice educator training, Makaton, Lamh, Train the trainer and various other study days.

Julie is a member of the Irish Association of Speech and language therapists, Irish Association of Speech and Language therapists in Private practice, CORU - Regulating Health & Social Care Professionals and is also registered by the health and care professionals council (HCPC) in the UK.