Processing Problems

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What to expect

Processing Problems

Processing is a term used to describe the brains role in recognising and interpreting the sounds and information around you. When something affects the processing or interpretation of the information being received, this is termed a processing problem / disorder. Speech and language therapy can be highly beneficial in helping children with processing problems by improving, developing and supporting their difficulties.

What is a processing problem?

A processing problem is defined as having a difficulty in understanding and interpreting the information around you.

A child with a processing problem will have difficulty processing and interpretating the information around them, either spoken or written forms or a combination of both.

Children with processing problems will often not recognise the subtle differences between the sounds in words. A child is more likely to have increased processing problems when listening or receiving more complex information, and when in a noisy or distractible environment.

Attention and memory difficulties may also contribute to processing problems, this is where the child is unable to attend to the information being presented, and has difficulties in retaining the information long enough to process it.

Having a processing problem may affect the child's ability to understand both verbal and written instructions in a variety of settings, and with different people e.g. at home or school and with teachers or parents.

What causes processing problems?

The exact cause of processing problems is unknown and it is often due to a combination of factors, these may include:

What difficulties caused by processing problems can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy may help with the following difficulties, which may be a result of, or contribute, to a processing problem:

How is a processing problem diagnosed?

An initial assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will determine whether your child has a processing problem. An initial assessment will involve the following:

  • A discussion with you about your child's speech and language problems and any concerns you may have.
  • A case history of your child's development.
  • An observation of your child's play, attention, listening and language skills.
  • A more detailed assessment of your child's speech, language and processing e.g. asking your child to follow verbal instructions of increasing difficulty, asking your child to name picture sequences at increasing speed and difficulty.

How does speech and language therapy help processing problems?

Speech and language therapy can help to improve on many aspects of processing problems. Speech and language therapy aims to increase your child's understanding of spoken and written sounds, words and sentences.

Speech and language therapy can additionally help to improve and increase your child's attention and listening skills. In cases where a child's processing is severely affected, additional aids may be introduced e.g. visual cues to support your child's understanding.

The speech and language therapist will also support you and your child's teachers in maximising your child's communicative abilities in the home and school environments.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for processing problems involve?

The speech and language therapist will carry out a detailed assessment of your child's speech and language which will help to determine the best treatment option for their specific communication needs. Treatment at speech and language therapy may involve:

One of our Speech and Language Therapists will carry out an initial assessment. This assessment will highlight any worries and difficulties concerning your child's communication and speech. It will also provide a chance for you to share any concerns you may have, and allow you to discuss what you would like to work on and improve for your child's communication.

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for processing problems?

An assessment can be arranged with one our speech and language therapists. This can be arranged by calling the following number 0330 0885 643.


Processing problems may have varying effects on each individual child. Processing problems will affect your child's ability to interpret the information around them. Speech and language therapy will aim to improve and maximise your child's communicative ability. If you feel you and your child would benefit from speech and language therapy then please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing or calling 0330 0885 643.

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Next steps

To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email


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All our speech and language therapists are registered with the RCSLT and the HCPC

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