& Professionals

Speech is difficult to understand


What to do 

If you are unsure what a child is saying you can:

Ask questions to help narrow down the topic. Keep the questions short and specific, for example:

“Inside school or at home?”

“With mum or with dad?”

“Were you on holiday?”

“Yesterday or today?”

“Were you driving or walking?”

These make it easier to understand what the child is trying to say rather than broad questions such as “Where did you go?”


Check you have understood, by repeating back the words you think you have heard.

For example:

“So, you went to Spain?”


Ask the child to slow down. Slowing down your own rate of speech will encourage them to do the same, and will help to make it easier for you to understand them.


Show interest in what they are saying. Keep your face and voice lively and let the child know you are interested in what they have to say. This will encourage them to explain. Try to keep normal eye contact and posture.


Encourage the child to use normal cues to supplement their speech (your child may not do this automatically and may need frequent and gentle prompting). Some examples of this are:

  • Pointing
  • Gesturing/signing
  • Facial expressions
  • Drawing/writing
  • Say what the first sound of the word is

Take time to tune in. Spend some time getting used to the child’s speech in situations where you might be able to predict what he is going to say e.g. sharing a book together. This will help to build the child’s confidence.


A home/school book where parents can write down family and pet names and what they did at the weekend, as this will give you some clues as to likely topics of conversation


Try and work out what sounds the child says instead of the correct sound (what sounds they substitute) – this will help you understand the child. For example:

‘ k ’ always said as ‘ t ’, so coat toat

‘d’ always said as ‘g’, so dad gag



What to avoid 

Making the child repeat the words after you and never say ‘say it properly’.


Asking the child to repeat what they have said more than once, as this will be frustrating and embarrassing for them.




Ask your Speech and Language Therapist for more information.

Local Initiatives

Early Years Initiatives

Our Early years team are currently working together with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, this includes a rollout of language screening of children using the Wellcomm tool.

School Age Initiatives

We currently offer a range of virtual training sessions to schools for free! SENCo's will have been informed of training dates that you can book your staff on to. Please contact Fiona Taylor ( or your Link SLT if you have any questions about this. 


 Enhanced Services initiatives

The Enhanced Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) Service offer bought-in input in schools. This might involve universal input, individual or group interventions. The Enhanced Team also support schools and staff to develop communication friendly environments and deliver training. For further information, please contact Fiona Taylor –


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