Comprehension problems

How we can help people with comprehension problems

Comprehension is the ability to understand verbal, non-verbal and written communication. A comprehension problem can arise when there is a breakdown in understanding any form of communication. Comprehension problems can also be termed receptive problems.

What is a comprehension problem?

A comprehension problem is a difficulty in understanding verbal, written and non-verbal (body language and facial expressions) communication. A patient with a comprehension problem may have difficulty in understanding any of the above methods of communication or a combination of these.

Comprehension problems can vary from mild to severe difficulties.

Common difficulties experienced by individuals with comprehension problems can include:

What conditions can cause comprehension problems?

Many conditions and disorders can cause comprehension problems in adults, the severity of these comprehension problems will differ for each disorder and with each individual. The following disorders or conditions can contribute to a comprehension problem in adults:

How is a comprehension problem diagnosed?

Comprehension problems are identified and diagnosed by the speech and language therapist. The speech and language therapist will work with a number of professionals when diagnosing if an individual has a comprehension problem. An initial assessment will be carried out by the speech and language therapist. This assessment will identify if an individual has a comprehension problem and also the severity of the individual’s difficulties. The initial assessment will also help to decide on what the best method of treatment will be for the individual.

How can speech and language therapy help with comprehension problems?

Speech and language therapy will help to treat and support individuals with comprehension problems. Individuals with comprehension problems will often respond well to speech and language therapy.

The speech and language therapist will work with the individual and also their carer and other professionals in helping to support their speech, language and communication needs. The main aim of speech and language therapy will be to maximise the individual’s communication and also to increase their understanding of spoken and written words and sentences.

Each individual will have an individualised speech and language therapy treatment plan. When creating an individual’s treatment plan the speech and language therapist will consider many factors including the individual’s current and past communicative abilities and also the underlying cause of their comprehension problem.

What speech and language therapy treatment can benefit comprehension problems?

There are different forms of speech and language therapy which can benefit individuals with comprehension problems. The speech and language therapist will carry out and initial assessment to determine what the best option of treatment will be for the individual’s specific speech, language and communication needs. Different treatment options for an individual with comprehension 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

A comprehension problem is a difficulty in understanding verbal, non-verbal and written forms of communication. An individual with a comprehension problem will have difficulty in communicating effectively with others. The speech and language therapist will aim to increase the individual’s understanding and maximising their communicative ability.

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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