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What Causes Adult Mumbling?

Most of us have been told at one time or another to “stop mumbling!” when we were speaking. The truth is that everyone wants to be able to communicate clearly and be heard well by others. The goal of speaking, whether it involves a professional presentation, a social interaction, or another situation, is to captivate our audience and make an impact. For adults, clear communication skills don’t only affect what is said, but how it is said, and how others perceive us.

Speech clarity and appropriate volume are among the most important factors when in a situation that requires speaking. Mumbling refers to when an individual does not speak clearly. In most cases, this means speaking in a very quiet or hushed tone, repeatedly omitting end sounds in words, frequently being asked to repeat themselves, or a general lack of power behind their speech.

Mumbling is common among adults and can result from a wide range of conditions. Many adults who struggle with mumbling seek help from a speech therapist. Speech therapists are experts at helping individuals overcome communication challenges and improve their speech and language skills. If you or a loved one is struggling to communicate clearly due to mumbling, help is available. Get started with one of our incredible speech therapists by scheduling your free introductory call today!

Is Mumbling a Speech Disorder?

Mumbling on its own is not considered to be a speech disorder. Instead, it is considered to be a symptom of another communication disorder. In cases where mumbling is presented as the main symptom, dysarthria is often determined to be the diagnosis. Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder caused by damage to the nervous system that has weakened or paralyzed the muscles responsible for speech production. In many cases, the muscle damage makes it more difficult to control the movement of the tongue or voice box, causing slurring.

What Causes Adult Mumbling?

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why do I keep mumbling words?” It is important to determine the cause. Mumbling in adults can be caused by many things, and understanding the underlying cause of a speech disorder or dysfluency is an important first step to determining how to proceed. Some of the most common causes of adult mumbling include:

  • Extreme Shyness
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Mental Health Challenges such as Anxiety Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Dysarthria (Muscle Weakness or Paralysis)
  • Fatigue
  • Apraxia of Speech
  • Some Neurological Conditions Affecting Muscle Control (such as Parkinson’s Disease)
  • Poor Speech Patterns or Speech Habits

Adult mumbling can be caused by a physical, mental, or neurological condition. In some instances, however, mumbling in adults is caused by extreme shyness or poor self-esteem and is not connected to a specific health condition. Whatever the cause is, speech therapy can help eliminate mumbling, improve speech clarity, and boost confidence. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!

How Do I Stop Mumbling as an Adult?

If you are experiencing persistent mumbling while speaking, consulting your primary care provider is the first step to rule out any underlying health conditions. Working with a speech therapist is an important next step, as your speech therapist can help to improve your speech and reduce instances of mumbling, whatever the underlying cause may be.

Working on your speech alone can be helpful, but it is not a replacement for professional speech therapy. Below are tips if you want to practice certain techniques at home between speech therapy appointments or until you are able to seek professional help.

Always Start with a Deep Breath – Taking a deep breath before you begin speaking will help you start with a louder and clearer voice. Practicing specific exercises that target breathing and breath control can help improve your speech clarity as well as aid in overcoming any stress or anxiety related to speaking.

Pause for Quick Breaths – If you are struggling to produce the end sound of a word or sentence or are consistently “swallowing” words, begin to create a habit of taking a pause and a quick breath at a point that makes sense grammatically to pause.

Don’t Rush – Pacing your rate of speech and allowing the muscles responsible for speech adequate time to process and make the appropriate movements can help make speech clearer. Speaking slowly will also help the listener to understand you more easily.

Try the Open Mouth Approach – While it might feel silly, try speaking with a larger opening of your mouth. You will likely experience the difference this makes in your speech right away, and will help you produce all speech sounds and syllables more clearly.

Practice Pronunciation – Working to identify the specific pronunciation errors you may be making will help to bring awareness around those specific sounds, making correcting them more straightforward. A speech and language pathologist is best suited to identify and guide you in correcting faulty sounds.

Prioritize your Posture – Good posture when speaking helps align your body, allowing for optimal breathing. Good breathing control and patterns are essential parts of speaking with clear speech and a powerful voice.

Practice, Practice, Practice! – Whether you are alone or with a friend or family member, take as many opportunities as you can to practice speaking loudly and clearly. Reading aloud and recording yourself while speaking can help you appreciate your progress and illuminate what areas you still need to work on.

The Bottom Line

Mumbling in adults can significantly impact an individual’s self-esteem and quality of life. Poor speech clarity can affect opportunities to advance professionally and personally. It can also exacerbate existing mental health issues and prevent those affected from pursuing valuable opportunities. Speech therapy for adults who mumble begins with a thorough assessment of the specific areas of difficulty and the identification of particular speech and communication goals. From there, your speech therapist will develop a customized treatment plan and will work with you closely each week to progress toward your goals. Treatment with your speech therapist will continue until your goals are met.

You don’t have to spend your life avoiding speaking or feeling shame about your speech habits. Don’t wait to seek help; get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!