Communication and speech and language therapy

Did you know that all the therapists who appear on the AHT Network directory have had their registrations verified by us, saving you the time.


What is communication?

Communication is complex.

As with any complex system, things can sometimes go wrong. Many people have difficulties with:


• understanding and constructing sentences (syntax/ grammar);

• learning and finding the right words to make themselves understood (vocabulary);

• producing specific speech sounds within words (phonology and articulation);

• saying sentences in a fluent and easy manner without stutters (fluency);

• knowing how to use language appropriately in different social situations (social communication).


Additionally, language and speech development are built upon foundation skill such as: hearing, vision, auditory processing, memory and attention. A deficit in one or more of these underlying areas will often lead to problems in language and speech development.

Likewise, a deficit in language and/ or speech development often has knock on effects to literacy (reading and writing) development and other school subjects.


Who is affected by communication difficulties?

Communication difficulties affect both young and older people. When a child has a difficulty developing speech, language or communication skills which are not caused by an identifiable 'event' it is called a 'developmental' difficulty. When an adult (or child) develops a speech, language or communication difficulty as a result of an identifiable event (e.g. stroke, brain injury) it is called an 'acquired' difficulty.


What is speech and language therapy?

Speech and language therapy is the term used for any therapy which supports the needs of someone (young or old) with either a developmental or acquired communication need.

There are many different approaches to therapy so not all therapists will use the same approach, nor will all approaches be appropriate for every condition. Every therapy plan will look different to best fit the individual needs of the person, or people, involved.

Some therapists specialise in specific areas (e.g. stuttering, autism) or with different age groups (e.g. infants, paediatric, adults). Some people with communication difficulties have other needs additional to their communication needs.


* The AHT Network search function offers you the choice of searching by age range and different professional groups.

Therapy can be delivered individually (1:1) or in groups. But it's always best when a family or wider school staff are also involved with the therapy as this will help with generalisation of skills taught.


What is a speech and language therapist?

Speech and language therapists are university qualified, either having completed a Bachelor Degree or Masters Degree specialising in speech and language therapy. The profession is highly regulated: in the UK, all practicing speech and language therapists must be registered with the Health Care Professions Council. Similar regulation bodies exist in other countries. Speech and language therapists must provide evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD - training) to retain their registration.

When choosing a private therapist, you should ask about their registrations and where you can view these. This will give you some peace of mind that the speech and language therapist you are planning on working with actually has the qualifications to do what they say they can do. For UK registered therapists you can also conduct your own search on the HCPC website ( to confirm the registration of the therapist you are talking to.


* All therapists and professionals listed on the AHT network directory have already been vetted for their registration, saving you the time.

The title 'Speech and Language Therapist' is a protected title that only UK registered therapists can use. Overseas registered therapists use other titles such as speech and language pathologist. Therefore, if you see someone with a different title, ask to see their qualifications and where you can view their registration details. It is important their registration is current.


What can you expect once you engage with a therapist?

Typically, some baseline assessment needs to be carried out. This will usually take the form of a meeting with the family and people important to the person to find out some of the history of the difficulty, and then assessment tasks. Assessment tasks may be informal (interaction and observation) or formal (language/ speech/ communication tests which provide scores).

After assessment and discussion with family, targets and goals are developed which meet the areas of need the person has. Goals and targets should be made with consideration given to those that will have the most impact on the person’s ongoing communication and should be agreed upon by the client/ family.

Goals need to be realistic and achievable so, when working with children, consideration also needs to be given to which targets are developmentally appropriate and when working with anyone, need to reflect the level of impairment (e.g. literacy level tasks may not be appropriate if there are lower level deficits which impact on literacy ability).


* When engaging therapists through AHT Network, you can be confident of choosing someone who is who they say they are.

Communication and speech and language therapy