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ADHD and SLT

Little boy during lesson with his speech therapist.jpg

Complications with speech may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), but the reality is it can have a major effect. Fortunately, speech therapy can help children with ADHD overcome the challenges they face, improving their expression, comprehension, and social skills.

Why is Speech Affected?

ADHD makes it difficult for people to focus on a single situation for extended periods of time. The attention deficit will vary, but speech can be affected in cases where the attention span is quite short. This is down to the simple fact that children learn by observing, so those who struggle to observe also struggle to absorb language.

How is Speech Affected?

Because children with ADHD can struggle to absorb new information, this directly affects their ability to use and understand language. In terms of comprehension, the problem is twofold: firstly, children can have difficulty learning what words mean, making it harder to understand whoever is speaking. Secondly, it is much harder to follow sentences and conversations, making it even more difficult to understand instructions or ideas. 

ADHD can also affect an individual's ability to express themselves. This is in part due to the points made just above, but also because people with ADHD often rush their speech or jump from topic to topic, which makes it difficult for others to follow their points. 

The problem of absorbing information is not strictly limited to speech, however. Physical cues and social skills are also learned behaviour, and children with ADHD are far less likely to pick up and adapt these mannerisms. This makes engaging with people appropriately very difficult, which can lead to other problems such as isolationism. 

How can SLT Help?

Speech and Language therapy can be used to address the issues outlines above by building a tailored learning programme specifically for your child. While the ultimate goal of SLT will usually be to help the patient reach their maximum potential in terms of communication, the actually therapy itself is not a class on how to speak. 

Treatment will vary significantly depending on the needs of the patient, but there are several key areas that the therapist will likely examine. The early stages will usually involve sign-language or flashcards to help open the lines of communication. How to play appropriately will often be one of the first lessons, as the child is more likely to engage and learn things like taking turns, not leaving friends, and playing by the rules. Other treatments include attention building, understanding others and expressing yourself. 

As well as working directly with the child, your therapist will examine the child's lifestyle and routine. They will flag any major red flags that could be inhibiting the child's development, as well as opportunities for them to grow. Examples of opportunities include using checklists to help the child focus and stay on track.