Communication problems

How we can help people with 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 or spoken communication

Verbal or 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 adults, these can include:

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 or 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:

Training

Training involves training for individuals, parents, carers and other professionals involved in the individual’s care, regarding their speech, language and communication needs.

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Consultative role

A consultative role will include advice and support for the individual, their parents, carers and other professionals involved in their care regarding their speech, language and communication needs. The speech and language therapist may also provide information on compensatory strategies for the patient and their carer or parent to help support and maximise their communicative abilities.

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Home programmes

Home programmes will include take home activities, which will help the patient and their parents or carers practise skills learnt in therapy. The speech and language therapist can provide home programmes on communication, for parents, carers and the individual, in helping them to maximise their communicative ability. School programmes can also be given to help support the individual in their educational environment.

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One to one therapy

One to one therapy will provide intensive one to one treatment for the individual. One to one therapy will work on individual tasks in helping to maximise the individual’s communication. One to one therapy can include receptive tasks, which work on the individual’s understanding of spoken language. One to one therapy may also work on expressive tasks, which work on the individual’s expressive communication including gesture and writing.

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Total communication

A total communication approach works on all available communicative forms the patient has including, verbal, written and non-verbal communication.

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Group therapy

Group therapy is where the individual and other clients with similar difficulties receive therapy together. Group therapy can often help in later stages of therapy and increase the individual’s motivation, social skills and also help generalise the skills learnt in one to one therapy.

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Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems will be used for patients with severe communication problems, or if the patient is non-verbal. Examples of alternative forms of communication include, alphabet charts, sign language and hi-tech voice aids.

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Speech and language therapy may also include the following:

Summary

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 speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

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