Communication Difficulties

Communications Difficulties

Speech and Language Therapists aim to help adults or children who experience some kind of difficulty with their communication.

These difficulties could be:

  • Unclear speech – says “tar” instead of “car” or “poon” instead of “spoon”
  • Has no speech at all – uses gesture or takes you by the hand to make you understand what they want, may also scream and have lots of tantrums out of sheer frustration at not being able to make themselves understood.
  • The under development of spoken language in children – these children only use one or two words instead of a full sentence or fail to use words to join sentences together for example.
  • Stuttering/stammering – people who repeat single sounds, words or syllables and consequently have difficulty in communicating with others.
  • An inability to concentrate or listen to spoken language for any length of time – mostly children who have autism, dyslexia, ADHD or related disorders.
  • Speech or language difficulties following a stroke or head injury – these clients need to re learn how to speak or understand spoken language and frequently experience severe word finding difficulties.
  • Autistic spectrum disorders – these difficulties range from moderate to severe problems in understanding and using language and difficulties with social and play skills.

Speech and Language Therapy is designed to help those with difficulties – such as those outlined above – to learn to communicate as effectively as possible.

Worked Examples

  1. A child who has unclear speech could improve quite quickly by receiving speech therapy to develop missing or substituted sounds. If speech sound work does not improve the situation then, possibly the therapist would start work on muscle control and/or muscle co-ordination, the therapist may also advise an alternative means of communication other than speech. E.g. Sign Language or PECS to support communication while therapy is ongoing.
  2. Tommy is a 4 year old who was diagnosed with Autism and has had problems in communicating from an early age. For the last two years Tommy has been seen monthly in sessions with his mum. These sessions have included advice on early communication skills development, provided support and information and progress has been monitored. Tommy has a Statement of his Special Educational Needs that includes Speech & language Therapy and allows him to have ongoing therapy.
  3. Miss D, 27 years old was referred by her ENT Consultant as she had a hoarse voice and thickening of the front half of the vocal cords. She was seen for assessment and advice on vocal hygiene, posture, breathing, relaxation and lifestyle stress.

Speech and Language Therapy comes in different forms: 

  • Direct Speech and Language Therapy – the therapist works 1:1 with the client.
  • Indirect Speech and Language Therapy – the therapist may advise the carers and those involved within the client’s direct environment.
  • Alternatively, the therapist may monitor the client’s progress at regular intervals and offer advice/activities for home use between intervals.