Communication and Dysarthria

Dysarthria is a speech impairment that sometimes occurs after a stroke. It can affect pronunciation, the loudness of the voice and the ability to speak at a normal rate with normal intonation. The exact speech problems will differ from person to person, depending on the location and severity of the stroke.

People with dysarthria often benefit from speech therapy. It’s best to work with a speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to develop an individualized treatment program.

Most people with dysarthria can improve communication with these simple strategies:

  • Avoid talking in noisy environments.
  • If possible, move away from the noise source before you start talking.
  • Reduce or eliminate the noise. Turn the volume on the television or radio down (or turn it off).
  • Choose quiet restaurants.
  • Communicate face to face if possible.
  • Eliminate visually distracting backgrounds to so your conversational partner can focus on your face.
  • If you’re talking in a distracting environment, position yourself to eliminate visual distractions behind you. For example, keep your back to the wall.
  • Provide some context before you start talking. Saying, “I’d like to tell you about my dog,” before launching into your story will prepare your listener to expect certain words.
  • Carry a pencil and notepad or a small index card with the alphabet printed on it. Try writing or pointing to the first letter of each word as you say it. This is a surprisingly effective technique.
  • Consider using the Telecommunications Relay Service where a specially trained communication assistant mediates phone calls for you. The Americans With Disabilities Act requires telephone companies to provide the service at no charge.
  • Ask people to be patient with you!

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