My name's Michelle Morris and I'm a speech and language therapist

and I work for Salford Primary Care Trust.

Speech and language communication difficulties,

we put the three together because these are three really important parts

of the work that we do.

They range from... We can see very, very young babies

right the way through to older people.

Communication difficulties can happen to anybody at any time in their lives.

Have a seat here.

Speech is, for us, about the sounds that people produce

and language is about both what people understand

of the language that they hear around them

and also the language that they use to express themselves.

So you can have problems in all those different areas

and sometimes you can have multiple problems.

What we would find with children, for example,

is that some children might develop speech and language more slowly

and they are not keeping up with their peers.

- This is the oldest dog. - OK.

When a child is referred into speech and language therapy,

we look at all aspects of that child's development

in relation to their communication.

So we would look at their ability to listen and attend to sound,

we'd look at their speech sounds,

we'd look at how much the child understood

in terms of the language that's used around them.

We'd look at what language they were using themselves

in terms of the vocabulary and the grammatical constructions.

If a child has a very minor problem,

then it may be that with a few sessions the problem will be resolved,

but some children have very complex communication difficulties

that will go on all their lives

and they will need interventions, not continuously, necessarily,

but at certain key points in their life.

I think people are often surprised at the range of conditions

that speech and language therapists see.

Our title, speech and language therapy,

implies that we are talking about speech and communication skills,

but we also see people who have got feeding and swallowing difficulties.

So, for example, that can happen for a baby who's born prematurely.

They may be in a special care baby unit.

We could still be called in to support the family and the child

and with developing feeding skills.

Children with physical disabilities

can often have complex difficulties with acquiring nutrition

and we would support those children.

Similarly with adults,

as a result of a stroke people can lose the ability

to chew and swallow normally

and will then require support where they haven't needed it previously.

So with this one here you can say, "The boy is tall."

We can see very complex medical disorders

like cleft lip and palate

or various chromosomal syndromes,

and we can support people

with communication difficulties in those areas.

Or alternatively it could be something like a stammer.

People easily identify stammering

and many children go through a stage

of normal developmental non-fluency

and parents can get very anxious about their child appearing to stammer.

Those children are usually referred very quickly into the service

and we would support the family with those children

rather than the child themselves

until we've established whether he's going to continue to be a stammerer

or if it's just a developmental phase the child is going through.

Adults can have what we would usually call

acquired communication difficulties,

and those can be as a result of things like a stroke

or a neurological condition like multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy

or as a result of a head injury.

Communication skills are absolutely essential to life.

They completely underpin everything that people do

and in fact they underpin it so much that people take them for granted.

We can't always cure problems

and I think that's a really important message.

So if some people have very long-standing problems

or have very severe acquired difficulties,

we can't cure everything,

but what we can do is support people

to maximise, to make the best use of the communication skills that they've got.