The highest quality voice and the broadest vocabulary aren’t worth much if the articulation of the words is not correct. The words we speak in the English language are comprised of individual sounds that are referred to as phonemes. These phonemes are combined to form words and give meaning. In order to produce sounds and form words, we use our lips, teeth, jaw, and tongue (referred to as articulators) to form sounds into words.
The expressions ‘lazy mouth’ and ‘lazy tongue’ illustrate how important the flexibility of the articulators is when it comes to good articulation. If the articulators are ‘lazy’ or sluggish, it can be difficult to articulate sounds clearly. This can be referred to as sloppy speech or lazy tongue and can make it difficult to communicate clearly and effectively. For anyone who is struggling to produce clear speech and articulation, time with a speech and language pathologist is the best resource when it comes to improving communication skills. Get started on your path to clearer speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What is Dysarthria?
Dysarthria refers to when the muscles that are required for speech are weak or difficult to control. Dysarthria can often result in slurred or slower speech that is difficult to understand. There are several common causes of dysarthria, including disorders of the nervous system, facial paralysis, or general muscle weakness. In some cases, dysarthria is caused by certain medications. It is important to identify and treat the underlying cause of dysarthria in order to improve the clarity of your speech.
What are the Symptoms of Dysarthria?
The signs and symptoms of dysarthria vary between individuals and depend on the underlying cause of dysarthria. These symptoms can include:
- Slurred Speech
- Slow Pace of Speech
- Speaking in a Whisper or Inability to Speak at a Louder Volume
- Speech that is Rapid and Difficult to Understand
- Raspy, Nasal, or Strained Sounding Voice
- Abnormal or Uneven Rhythm of Speech
- Inconsistent Speech Volume
- Speech that is Monotone
- Difficulty Moving your Facial Muscles and Tongue
What Causes a Weak Tongue? What Causes Dysarthria?
In cases of dysarthria, individuals experience difficulties moving and controlling the muscles in the mouth, face, and upper respiratory system that are responsible for speech. Some of the conditions that can result in the development of dysarthria include:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also referred to as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Brain Tumor
- Head Trauma
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Cerebral Palsy
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Huntington’s Disease
- Lyme Disease
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Myasthenia gravis
- Parkinson’s Disease
Some medications can also cause dysarthria. Some of the most common medications that cause dysarthria are sedatives and anti-seizure drugs. Whatever the underlying cause may be, speech therapy for dysarthria is highly effective in helping to improve communication skills. Get started with speech therapy by scheduling your free introductory call today!
Can Anxiety Cause Tongue Problems?
In some cases, anxiety can cause numbness or a tingling sensation in the tongue as well as other differences in the mouth. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk with your healthcare professional. Anxiety can manifest in a variety of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. When an individual with anxiety experiences tingling sensations on their tongue, as well as swelling on numbness, this is often referred to as “stress tongue” or “anxiety tongue.”
Anxiety is defined as an emotional response that is linked to the body’s stress response. When your brain perceives a real or imagined threat, the body prepares to respond to that threat. This can initiate a variety of physiological responses ranging from the secretion of hormones to intense muscle tension and changes in the body’s blood flow.
How Can I Improve my Dysarthria at Home?
If you are struggling with significant dysarthria that is making your speech difficult to comprehend, the following techniques and exercises can help you to communicate more clearly and effectively:
Practice Speaking Slowly – If you work on slowing down the pace of your speech, listeners will likely be able to understand you more effectively and appreciate the additional time to process the information they’re hearing.
Start Slow and Small – Start a conversation by introducing the topic you wish to speak about with a single word or a phrase before you begin to speak in longer sentences.
Gauge Comprehension – Ask those you are conversing with to confirm that they are understanding what you’re saying.
Choose your Moments – If you’re feeling tired, it’s probably a good idea to keep your conversations short. Fatigue or significant tiredness can make your speech more difficult to understand by others.
Have a Backup Plan – If you are struggling to be understood by others, writing messages can be a helpful technique. You can also try typing messages on a smartphone or other hand-held device, or carry a small pad of paper and pencil with you.
Use Shortcuts – Some people find it helpful to create drawings or diagrams as well as use photos to help communicate during conversations. Gesturing or pointing to an object is also an effective way to help convey your message.
How Can Speech Therapy Help with Dysarthria?
Those who are struggling to communicate effectively because of dysarthria will benefit from speech and language therapy. Speech therapy for dysarthria will help to strengthen the muscles responsible for speech production, regain normal speech volume and pace, and improve communication skills in general. The speech therapy goals of someone with dysarthria can include adjusting the rate of speech, strengthening muscles, increasing breath support, improving overall articulation, and helping family members and loved ones effectively communicate with the individual. In some cases, your speech-language pathologist will suggest exploring other communication methods if speech and language therapy isn’t effective or the desired goals cannot be met. These communication methods can include the use of visual cues, gestures, an alphabet board, assistive devices, or computer-based technology. Don’t wait to seek help, get started with Great Speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!