Better Care

Look who's talking now!

Cyril and Constance Mapika

Until recently, two-year-old twins Cyril and Constance Mapika could not say a single word, communicating with each other through their own language made up of different sounds that only they understood.

While other toddlers their age were starting to develop their vocabulary, mum Abigail Sibanda was becoming increasing worried about her son and daughter, who had developed their own language that no one else could decipher.

Due to their close relationship, the twins were able to interact with each other and understand the other’s thoughts and feelings through simple sounds and gestures.

However this meant that interaction with other children or adults became a difficult for them and an increasing frustration for their parents.

Abigail took the twins to a drop-in clinic run by BCHC's health visiting service at her local health centre where health visitor Satnam Lgah was able to support the family with some early intervention speech development techniques while they waited to see a speech and language specialist for an assessment.

Abigail said: “It has only been a few weeks since we first went to the health visitor service, but already we are starting to see a real improvement through applying the techniques that Satnam recommended.

“Their father and I were encouraged to read to them separately which they love and have started to recognise words in the books.

“It’s been a huge help so far and the twins are trying harder to say more words. Even their behaviour has improved and I now feel more in control.” 

Cyril and Constance Mapika with mum Abigail Siganda (right) and BCHC health visitor Satnam Lgah.

This was an unusual case for Satnam Lgah who, despite her three years experience in health visiting, hadn’t come across a case quite like this before.

She said: “In some areas of Birmingham it is not uncommon for children to have a speech delay if their parents are reading to them or talking to them enough – but this situation was very different.

“When I first met the family both parents were distraught and didn’t know where to turn for help. Although the twins appeared happy they were becoming increasingly distant and badly behaved.

“The family have fully adopted all the techniques I have recommended whilst they wait to see a specialist which have all had a very positive impact.

“It’s early days but already the family are much happier and it’s so rewarding to see how my role can be pivotal in the health and wellbeing of a family.”

Birmingham Community Healthcare is committed to developing a larger, re-energised health visiting profession to lead and deliver improved services to achieve the best possible outcomes for children, families and communities in the city.

  • If you are interested in a career in health visiting or know someone that would like to return to the profession, visit for more information about training and opportunities.


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Cyril and Constance Mapika