A communication difficulty can affect a person’s ability to hear, talk, understand, read, write, sign and/or gesture. The technical term is a ‘communication disability’. We will use the term ‘difficulty’ because not all people who have a communication difficulty consider themselves to have a disability.
People with a communication difficulty can find it hard to do everyday activities such as:
Reading a book or newspaper, Talking on the telephone, Joining in conversations, Listening to the radio.
A communication difficulty can affect areas of everyday life. For example going to work or school, socialising with family and friends and travelling.
People of all ages can be affected by a communication difficulty. Some communication difficulties are temporary. Other communication difficulties are permanent.
Examples of communication difficulties include:
A baby who is born with a hearing loss whose language development is delayed,
A two year old child who doesn’t speak any words,
A school aged child who is unable to complete their homework because of difficulty with reading and writing,
A young man who has difficulty understanding what people are saying to him following a car accident,
A middle aged woman who is only able to speak a few words after a stroke,
A man with Parkinson’s disease who has difficulty being understood over the phone because his speech is soft and unclear,
An older person who has hearing difficulties.
Communication difficulties can be mild, moderate or severe.
There are many reasons why people may have a communication difficulty. Some communication difficulties can be present at birth. Other communication difficulties can develop over time. A communication difficulty can also begin suddenly.
Speech pathologists can provide assessment, education and therapy for people with a communication difficulty. Speech pathologists also work with people who have swallowing difficulties. Speech pathologists work with people of all ages. They work in many different settings including: healthcare facilities, community facilities, schools and clinics.
Speech pathologists are also called speech-language pathologists and speech therapists. More information about speech pathologists can be found on the Speech.
Audiologists can provide assessment and rehabilitation for people with hearing difficulties. Audiologists work with people of all ages. More information about audiology services. Other professionals that can provide help to people with communication difficulties include:
Doctors – GPs and specialists