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How to support someone with communication challenges

Category: Employer Focus, social, information, Language, communicate, affect, person, understanding

How to support someone with communication challenges

SCLNs’ affect a person’s ability to learn, use or communicate language.

Other terms you may hear used included:

·       SCLI- Speech Communication and Language Impairments

·       Receptive Language Difficulties- understanding information

·       Expressive Language Difficulties- speaking/articulating thoughts and ideas e.g. stutter/stammer

·       Pragmatic Language Disorders- social use of language

·       Non- Verbal Learning Difficulties (NVLD)

·       (Developmental) Language Disorder

Everyone is different and will have strengths and challenges personal to them and dependent on the job. They may have different aspects of speech, language and communication impairments.

Common challenges described:

·       People with language and communication challenges may have difficulties remembering sequences of instructions, taking down telephone numbers or instructions.

·       The person may appear anxious or may become angry/frustrated if they do not understand what is being asked of them.

·       The person may lack confidence taking turns in meetings with a group of people, especially if asked to do so without planning.

·       They may be reluctant to ask to have something explained to them if they don’t understand, especially if someone has spoken to them at a fast speed.

·       They may have difficulty understanding the written word, especially if having to read something at speed (similar to people with Dyslexia).

·       The person may find it harder to understand social nuances or group interactions such as getting others jokes especially in a group where the pace of response may be faster.

Support in the workplace by the employer

·       Ask the person what support they need and what makes things harder /easier for them.

·       Ask what is their preferred means of communication for work tasks e.g. by email, written down.

·       Arrange regular short meetings to check on priorities and progress- this reduces anxiety levels for the employee that they can see they are on task and helps to gain confidence.

·       Give instructions slowly.

·       Allow additional time for the person to respond to you.

·       When giving important information find a quiet place, where possible, to give it so there is less background noise.

·       Address the person by their name so they are sure any instructions are for them.

·       Avoid jargon where possible. If there are workplace acronyms and language supply a list of terms so the person can refer to them if needed.

·       Be explicit in the information/tasks you are asking the person to do and check for their understanding.

·       Be specific in what you are asking the person to do. Avoid saying things like ‘in about 5 minutes’ or ‘you could do xx”.

·       Ask the individual to repeat back what’s been said to make sure they have understood. If they don’t, try and explain differently. Show, as well as tell, where you can.

·       Jokes and metaphors may be misunderstood or taken literally, so talk through expectations in the job and discuss the culture and rules of the work setting.

·       You may need to explain the less obvious ‘non work rules’ such as who makes tea; how long people take for lunch; what is allowed in terms of dress code; eating at desks etc.

·       Demonstrate, as well as say, how to do a new skill and give time for practice.

·       Provide a ‘buddy’ or peer initially to help set priorities and check on the person’s progress- this can reduce anxiety levels for the employee so that they can see they are ‘on task’ and helps to gain confidence.

·       Discuss if there is a need to talk with a group or present their ideas or work.

·       Discuss what is the best way for the person to do this if this is challenging for them e.g. sending around information before a meeting rather than verbally presenting it. The person may be able to present ideas but may find it harder to take ad hoc questions from people in a group setting and may prefer these to be sent in an email, for example, to consider and then respond to.

VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email info@vercida.com for more information.

We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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