This page has advice on how to support someone with:
You can help someone with communication difficulties by:
- speaking in short, simple sentences
- allowing the person extra time to process what you have said and think of their response
- providing information in short chunks
- giving directions in small steps
- avoiding changing topics abruptly
- using visuals e.g. maps, calendars, photographs, pictures
- writing down instructions or key words
- using gestures and facial expressions
- only asking one question at a time
- phrasing questions so that only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is required
- reducing distractions e.g. turn off the TV or move to a quiet room
- facing the person so that they can see you when you are talking
- checking with the person to make sure they have understood
There are a number of different things you can do to help protect your voice and reduce further damage. This is called vocal hygiene.
You can help someone with voice problems by:
- Be aware of your breathing: use an upright posture and keep your head straight. Your chest and shoulders should not move when you breathe in. Breathing this way should not cause tension.
- Drink plenty of water: your vocal tract needs moisture to work well.
- Avoid smoking and second hand smoke as it can cause dryness, redness and swelling of your vocal cords.
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake as they can also dry out your vocal cords.
- Minimise excessive coughing and throat clearing: instead take a sip of water or swallow hard.
- Avoid speaking in noisy situations and ‘pushing’ your voice: try to use your voice in a relaxed, easy way.
- Adapt your environment: offices may lack proper moisture in the air, consider a humidifier and remove air pollutants e.g. dust, chalk etc.
- Voice rest: if your voice feels tired or strained, then rest it.
- Monitor stress levels: stress increases muscle tension. Try to get plenty of rest, maintain a healthy diet and incorporate some form of relaxation into your lifestyle.
- Manage reflux: discuss management with your GP, avoid trigger foods (e.g. fatty foods, caffeine, spicy foods), eat smaller meals and avoiding lying down after eating.
You can support someone with a stammer by:
- avoiding saying things like “Slow down,” “Take a breath,” or “Relax.” Such simplistic advice is not helpful.
- focusing on what the person is saying and not how they say it.
- maintaining natural eye contact and wait until the person is finished speaking.
- avoiding finishing their sentences or filling in words.
- speaking in an unhurried way, but not so slowly as to sound unnatural. This promotes good communication with everyone.
You can help manage your swallowing difficulties by:
- sitting upright when eating or drinking
- eating and drinking when you are awake and alert
- reducing distractions
- slowing down and concentrating when eating/drinking
- not talking when eating/drinking
- taking small bites of food and small sips of fluids
- chewing your food well
- taking small sips of your drink after 2 to 3 mouthfuls to help clear any residue in your throat
- making sure you have swallowed your food or drink before taking more
- remaining seated upright for 30 minutes after meals