What is dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls speech. The muscles of the mouth, face and respiratory system may become weak, move slowly or not move at all. A Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) can assist with the diagnosis and treatment of dysarthria.

What are the signs of dysarthria?

  • “Slurred” speech (poor pronunciation of words)
  • Change in speed during talking, speaking softly or barely able to whisper
  • Fast rate of speech with a “mumbling” quality
  • Abnormal rhythm while speaking
  • Nasal speech (increased airflow through the nose during speech)
  • Changes in voice quality (breathiness, weakness)

What can I do if I have dysarthria?

  • Speak slowly using single words, short phrases and sentences.
  • Take a breath before you speak and pause frequently.
  • Exaggerate lip and tongue movements while speaking.
  • Avoid excessive speaking and exercises when you feel tired.
  • Emphasize key words rather than always using full sentences.
  • Reduce background noise, such as a loud radio or TV.
  • Try writing the word down, or using gestures to get your message across.

How can I help someone who has dysarthria?

  • Pay attention to the speaker to help with lip reading.
  • Be patient and encourage the person to slow their speech down.
  • Ask them to write key words or use pictures, drawings and gestures to explain themselves.
  • Clarify to make sure you have understood the speaker correctly.
  • Let the speaker know when you have difficulty understanding them.
  • Ask the speaker to repeat the part you have not understood.
  • If you still don’t understand the message, ask yes/no questions or have the speaker write his or her message to you.
  • Encourage the use of all relevant speech strategies, reminding the person to go slowly, to use one or two words at a time and pause regularly.

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