Getting help for speech problems

Each year over 2 million people struggle with speech problems; children are most affected by troubles with speech but many adults also suffer. People with speech problems are generally referred to speech and language therapists; these professionals are specially trained to help people develop their speech and enable them to communicate as effectively as possible. If you have a child and you suspect they may have speech problems you should contact your GP or health visitor; usually they recommend that children wait for therapy until the age of 3 as some children develop more slowly than others. Speech therapy is available on the NHS.

Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy is used to help people develop their speech; in the UK there are currently over 11,000 speech and language therapists working in a variety of settings. Speech and language therapy is commonly used to help children but it is also used to treat adults as well. Speech and language therapists currently work in the following environments:

  • Hospital wards and outpatient clinics
  • Children’s centres
  • Community health centres
  • Schools (both mainstream schools and schools for children with special needs)
  • Prisons and young offender’s institutions
  • Private practices

Speech and language therapy can be used to help people of all ages with a variety of different problems; examples of conditions that can benefit from speech therapy include:

  • Babies who struggle to feed and swallow properly
  • Children with learning difficulties
  • Children with slow speech development
  • Children and adults with speech impediments (including a lisp or stutter for example)
  • Children with a cleft palate
  • Children with pronunciation difficulties
  • Adults with learning disabilities
  • Adults that have difficulty speaking or swallowing as a result of a health condition such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia or a stroke
  • Adults and children with a hearing impairment

Speech therapy is designed to help people to communicate more effectively; it uses several different methods to encourage people to learn to speak properly, pronounce words and sounds correctly, swallow properly and encourage learning and development.

Guide to Hearing and Speech Problems

Hearing and speech

Speech disorders

Causes of hearing problems

Causes of speech problems

How can I tell if my child has hearing problems?

What are the effects of hearing loss on development?

Getting help for hearing problems

Getting help for speech problems

Protecting your hearing

Hearing Test