Physical Disabilities

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What to expect

Physical Disabilities

A physical disability is a disability which affects and limits physical function. A physical disability can range from minor problems to more serious substantial difficulties. A Physical disability will affect how well a child can move their muscles. Having a physical disability may additionally limit a child's production of speech, due to lack of muscle tone around the vital breathing muscles and vocal cords as well as the tongue and lips. Speech and language therapy will help and support children with physical disabilities with aspects of their speech, language, communication and swallowing.

What is a Physical Disability?

A Physical Disability is when a child is impaired of a muscle function which affects their life on a daily basis. This impairment may range from moderate, such as not being able to climb the stairs to severe, which may mean having a full time carer. Depending on where the muscle weakness is, speech and language therapy may be required for certain children. This will be the case if the weakness is around the head, neck or torso and is affecting speech production or the ability to eat and drink effectively.

What causes Physical Disability in children?

A physical disability may be congenital (from birth) or acquired later on in life after brain damage, injury or a Stroke. Some disorders such as; Cerebral Palsy and Dyspraxia can cause physical disability. The degree of difficulty will depend upon the severity of the condition. With regular therapy some people will make vast improvements.

What problems caused by a Physical Disability can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy can help with a variety of different physical disabilities, especially those which affect the following functions:

A speech and language therapist will be able to assess the extent at which the disability is affecting a child's speech, language, communication and swallowing, implementing therapy accordingly. This may include new ways of communicating, or strengthening the muscles which are affecting speech production.

How does speech and language therapy help children with Physical Disabilities?

Speech and language therapy can help alleviate the negative affects a physical disability is having over speech production and swallowing. This will be done by assessing the child to discover where the problem is, and providing appropriate intervention for this problem. Speech and language therapy may include new techniques for breathing or strengthening exercises for the particular muscle groups involved in the production of speech and swallowing.

There may be certain methods which require a new way of producing speech such as Alternative Augmentative Communication systems (AAC). AAC can include electrical devices used to imitate speech when someone does not have the capacity to produce natural speech. Training and demonstration would be integrated into the therapy, if such techniques were used.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for a child with a physical disability involve?

Speech and language therapy for a child with a physical disability may include one or all of the following:

Specific treatments for children with physical disabilities may include:

An initial assessment will be carried out by one of our Speech and Language Therapists. This will highlight any worries and difficulties concerning 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.

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

To arrange an assessment with one our speech and language therapists, please email or call 0330 0885 643.


A physical disability may affect the muscles which are used to produce speech. This may lead to someone having difficulties with their speech production. A speech and language therapist will offer alternative methods of speech production if needed, or implement a therapy programme to strengthen the muscles which are needed for speech. If you feel you and your child will benefit from speech and language therapy please email or call 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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