Communication Problems

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What to expect

Communication Problems

Communication is an activity where an individual can successfully convey a message, meaning or thought. When there is a breakdown in conveying or receiving a message this is known as a communication problem.

What is a communication problem?

A communication problem is a breakdown in the individual's ability to effectively convey their thoughts as a meaningful message. A communication problem may occur if the individual cannot effectively understand or convey a message being sent to them. There are different types of communication which include:

Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication is information which is sent via body language, facial expression, eye contact, tone of voice and gesture.

Verbal / spoken communication

Verbal/ spoken communication is information which is sent via spoken words.

Written communication

Written communication is information which is sent via written words or sentences.

Communication problems can include a breakdown in any of the above forms of communication. A communication problem can either be a receptive (understanding) problem, an expressive (verbal, non-verbal and written) problem or a combination of the two.

Communication problems can affect both adults and children, the severity of the individual's communication problem can range from mild to severe. In severe forms a patient may have very limited understanding or little or no spoken language.

What conditions can cause communication problems?

There are many conditions or disorders which can cause communication problems in children and adults, these can include:


  • Hearing loss and impairments
  • Neurological problems
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • Speech disorders
  • Learning difficulties
  • Communication problems
  • Physical disabilities
  • Down syndrome
  • Bilingualism
  • Selective mutism
  • Glue ear
  • Language delay
  • Auditory processing disorders
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Fetal anti-convulsant syndrome
  • Sensory integration dysfunction
  • Hyperlexia
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Voice disorders


  • Neurological problems
  • Hearing loss and impairments
  • Voice problems
  • Speech disorders
  • Communication problems
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Palliative care needs
  • Learning difficulties
  • Mental health problems

How is a communication problem diagnosed?

Communication problems are diagnosed and identified by the speech and language therapist. The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment which will evaluate if an individual has a communication problem and the severity of their communication problem.

How can speech and language therapy help with communication problems?

Speech and language therapy can treat and support communication problems. The main aim of speech and language therapy for an individual with communication problems will be to maximise their communicative ability.

The speech and language therapist will work with the individual, their parent / carer and other professionals in order to help them communicate to the best of their ability.

Speech and language therapy will be individualised for each client and will consider factors such as their current communicative ability and also the underlying condition causing their communication problems.

What speech and language therapy treatment can benefit communication problems?

There are many forms of speech and language therapy which can help and support communication problems. Each form of treatment will be individualised to the specific communication needs of the individual. Different types of treatments available for communication problems can include:

One to one therapy

One to one therapy will work with the client on an individual basis. For individuals with expressive language problems one to one therapy will work on specific exercises and strategies to help maximise their expressive communication.

Find out more on one to one therapy.


Training and advice for the individual, parents / carers and other professionals involved in the individual's care will be provided by the speech and language therapist. Training may include specific communication programmes to support the individual's comprehension problems.

Find out more about training.

Consultative role

The speech and language therapist will advise the individual, their carer and other professionals involved in their care on compensatory strategies to help support and maximise their communicative abilities.

Find out more about consultative role.

Home programmes

Home programmes can include specific communication programmes which will focus on maximising the individual's comprehension and also their communication. Home programmes will be provided to the individual and their carers or parents. Speech and language therapy programmes can also be implemented in the school environment.

Find out more about therapy programmes.

One to one therapy

One to one therapy will involve the therapist and the individual (and their carer or parent). One to one therapy will work on specific areas of communication the individual is finding difficult and also areas they feel are a priority to work on in therapy. For an individual with comprehension problems, the therapist may work on increasing the individual's understanding of spoken and written words, sentences and also conversation and paragraphs.

Find out more about one to one therapy.

Group therapy

Group therapy will usually involve a group of individuals with similar communicative abilities. Group therapy can help in increasing the individual's motivation, social skills and also help to generalise the skills learnt in one to one therapy. Parent and carer groups may also be carried out to help support the parents and carers in supporting the individual's comprehension problems.

Find out more about group therapy.

Alternative and Augmentative Communication

Alternative and augmentative forms of communication may also be used for individuals with very limited and restricted understanding. Alternative forms of communication will help to support an individual's understanding and help them to communicate to the best of their ability. Alternative forms of communication may include visual aids, sign language and also computer aids.

Find out more about Alternative and Augmentative Communication.

Speech and language therapy may also include the following:

  • assessments
  • school visits
  • clinic visits
  • home visits
  • reports
  • review
  • early intervention

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

To arrange an initial assessment with one of our speech and language therapists then please call us on 0330 0885 643.


Communication problems are difficulties in expressing or receiving meaningful messages effectively. Communication problems can affect children and adults of all ages and can be caused by a variety of conditions. The speech and language therapist will treat and support an individual's communication in a variety of ways, with the aim of maximising the patient's communicative potential. If you feel you may benefit from our speech and language therapy services then 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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