Introduction to smiLE therapy

Taster Session: a one-hour brief introduction to smiLE Therapy.

Presented on Thursday, 14th March 2024


smiLE Therapy: Strategies & Measurable Interaction in Live English was created in 2002 to explicitly develop pragmatic skills in DHH students. It gives deaf students a structured and meaningful way to learn essential communication and social skills for everyday use in the mainstream hearing world.

Since 2009 smiLE Therapy has extended to client groups beyond deafness, to children and young people (CYP) with Down Syndrome, Developmental Language Disorders, Learning Difficulties and Physical Disability. smiLE Therapy is also used with some Autistic CYP, where there are criteria and pre-requisites, and where smiLE Therapy is delivered in a different way to ensure it is neurodiverse-affirming. smiLE Therapy is used in mainstream and specialist school settings and Additionally Resourced Provisions, across primary, secondary, post 16 and 18-25 college settings across the UK.

This taster gave an introduction to the therapy using video clips to illustrate before and after therapy outcomes & parent workshops to support generalisation of skills.

Building social communication resilience to face the outside world

Deaf students face disadvantages in everyday encounters in the community, which are well documented in the research literature. This is similar for students with other communication difficulties. These include fewer opportunities to learn social interaction skills, reduced strategies to repair communication breakdown and misunderstanding impacting on daily functioning eg. not understanding doctors’ advice.

Researchers specifically called for a therapy to target this deficit in communication skills. To date smiLE Therapy is the only established intervention that targets this. It teaches communication in real situations, using before and after therapy videos of real interactions. smiLE Therapy builds communicative and social skills resilience. Through guided role-play, it raises awareness of how the lack of a skill or an inappropriate skill impacts on the communicative partner, so developing Theory of Mind. Crucially it includes the transfer of skills to the wider environment through school and family training, boosting self-esteem and mental wellbeing. Our aim is to share this innovation, the evidence behind it and our drive to improve outcomes for our stakeholders.

Target Audience

Speech and Language Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists' assistants, Teachers, Occupational Therapists, SENCOs, Educational Psychologists and Education staff


Karin Schamroth is a Specialist Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) for children and young people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH). She worked in the NHS for 30 years with DHH babies, pre-schoolers and school-aged students, across settings including home, nurseries, specialist DHH schools, DHH units and mainstream schools. Karin created smiLE Therapy in 2002 explicitly to develop pragmatic skills in DHH students. This therapy teaches DHH students the skills and strategies to effectively and confidently communicate in everyday interactions in the hearing community. Karin and her team continue to develop smiLE Therapy and train SLTs and Teachers in the UK and internationally.

The principles of the therapy was laid down in her book: Schamroth & Lawlor smiLE Therapy: Functional Communication and Social skills for Deaf students and Students with Special Needs Routledge, 2015.

smiLE Therapy Training

smiLE Therapy Training comprises 3 days of training, individual phone mentoring, 2 additional after school trainings & ongoing termly CPD.