VIDEO: The Sheffield speech clinic that changes lives

Neil Henderson, of Crosspool, is learning to Skype at the communication clinic at Sheffield University.
Neil Henderson, of Crosspool, is learning to Skype at the communication clinic at Sheffield University.

Talking - and the ability to communicate with loved ones - is something most people take for granted.

But the families who use innovative communication clinics at The University of Sheffield know it means everything.

Grandad Neil Henderson, of Crosspool, struggled to speak after a stroke left him in hospital for five months.

The 71-year-old said: “It was very frustrating because I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to say it. 
“I would end up thinking it wasn’t worth it and that I should just shut up.”

Retired Neil now has weekly one-to-one sessions with the university’s speech and language therapy students.

He is also learning to Skype at the clinic for asphasia - conditions that affect communication - so he can surprise his son and daughter.

Neil added: “The clinic has made a very great difference. I go home and talk to my wife about all the different things we have been doing - it is marvellous.

“I would come every day, twice a day, if I could.”

In another room Sue Hale, 53, is learning to text - a medium that didn’t exist when she had a stroke 19 years ago - and enjoying a joke with staff at a communication cafe.

She praised the social aspect and said: “I do look forward to coming.”

Clinics run by the university’s Department of Human Communication, based on Mushroom Lane in Broomhill, also help children with complex language or communication needs and patients with other conditions.

Autistic Madi Firth, aged three, did not speak in sentences before her family found the Sheffield Small Talk group. The play-based activities, including songs and the Makaton language, have increased her confidence.

Mum Mel, of Norton Lees, said: “Madi has always been able to speak one or two words and shown a big understanding but now she is putting things together.

“We were at a birthday party and got back and she said ‘happy birthday to you’.

“The group has turned our lives around - I wish more people knew of it.”