Having troubles getting people to understand what you say?  Finding that you repeat yourself often? 

This can be a condition called dysarthria or apraxia and is a broad category of speech disorders.  It can sound like slow, slurred speech, thick speech or a halting speech or a monotone voice. 

It is usually because of a stroke or head injury but can also result from Parkinson’s Disease or multiple sclerosis.

It can be quite frustrating to you and your listener and as time goes on, a speaker with dysarthria can become less and less social.  It is important to address these difficulties sooner rather than later.

Tips for the Listener:

  • Give your undivided attention to the speaker – don’t try to accomplish other things while you are listening
  • Try to maximize your ability to understand what the speaker is saying – communicate in a room where it is quiet, stand closer to the speaker and look him in the eye as he is talking to you
  • Be honest and tell the speaker when you are having difficulties understanding him. If you use visual cues such as a “TALK LOUDER” card, now is the time to show him the card.
  • If you didn’t understand the whole message, repeat the part you did understand. That way the speaker doesn’t have to repeat the whole message again.
  • If you still don’t understand the message, ask questions that can be answered with a yes or a no or have the speaker write key words down.

Tips for the Speaker:

  • Introduce the topic of your message. This will get you and your listener on the same page from the start.
  • Speak loudly and slowly, separating words and phrases with small pauses as needed.
  • Don’t shift topics abruptly.  You will confuse your listener.
  • Ask others to let you know when they don’t understand you. This way, you will know when you need to repeat something.
  • Try to have more important conversations when you are rested and not fatigues, such as in the morning or when your medications are providing peak benefits.

Because treatment varies depending on the cause, type and severity of the problem, please contact a speech pathologist or health care provider for further information. 

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