Dysarthria is diagnosed by a professional in speech pathology. It may be the result of a trauma to the brain or an injury or disease that impacts the muscles around the mouth or neck. Whatever the cause may be, it's important to practice speech in order to rebuild the muscle or retrain the nervous system to make the muscles function correctly. You will most likely work with a speech pathologist professional to learn techniques specific to your issue, but there are also a few things you can do at home to help develop your speech as well as other muscle functions of the mouth.
Do Muscle Exercises
The best way to develop your speech is by speaking, but you also have other issues to address, such as drooling, eating, and other basic functions having to do with your mouth. Some of the exercises here can help you develop those muscles, while speech techniques help focus on the muscles involving language use.
- Use a straw. Using a straw helps you develop your muscles as you can handle it. The motion of sucking through a straw requires several muscles working together in short bursts, so stamina isn't an issue. This will also help you manage your diet as you try to master the skills of chewing and swallowing again.
- Do tongue lifts. Stick out your tongue. Move it up and down. You use your tongue for moving objects in your mouth as well as speech. These exercises help you practice controlling your tongue so you can use it as you need to. As this movement becomes easier, try other movements, like sticking out your tongue and moving it from side to side or in circles.
Right now you have difficulty talking, so you get frustrated when people don't understand you, ask you to repeat yourself over and over, or give you answers that tell you they gave up listening to the questions. Your loved ones are your best tool right now because they can let you know how well you are being understood. You can help them understand you and work with your speech issues by employing a few simple techniques.
- Conduct socialization early in the day. As the day wears on, your muscles are going to get tired and your speech may be more slurred. The early hours are when your oral skills are going to be their sharpest.
- Outline your conversation. It may be helpful to limit the amount of words you use to be understood. Try outlining your conversation instead of using full sentences. State the topic first so listeners can focus on one area of interest. Next, use short simple sentences to get your point across.
- Create note cards. Keep note cards handy so that when you are too tired or having difficulty being understood, you can use your cards to get your point across.
- Check for understanding. Make sure that people understand what you are saying. Ask them if they understand. You can also create a note card that simply says "understand?" so you don't have to keep repeating the question.
It's very frustrating to have your communication skills limited, especially if you are dealing with other health issues. Your speech pathology professional can help guide you so that you can see your progress and learn techniques that apply to your specific situation. Be diligent with your visits, exercises, and using your loved ones for support. For more information, contact a clinic like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head.