Dysarthria is an inability to control or coordinate the muscles used for speech, including the lips, tongue, vocal folds, and diaphragm – or those muscles may be very weak. A person with dysarthria may speak slowly or too fast or mumble or slur his words so that he is difficult to understand.
Dysarthria in children is usually the result of brain damage. The damage may be from birth, as in cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, or may be from later damage to the nervous system, such as a traumatic brain injury or brain tumor.
How can I help my child with dysarthria?
A speech-language pathologist can evaluate a child with speech difficulties and look for problems with muscle control. The therapist will check the movement of the lips, tongue, and face, as well as how much breath the child can produce for speech.
Here at CTS, a therapist may work with your child to slow his speech, improve his breath support so he can speak louder, strengthen various muscles, get better movement of his lips and tongue, improve his ability to produce speech sounds so that his speech is clearer and easier to understand, and/or teach him to use other forms of communication such as gestures, pictures, or alternative and augmentative communication systems (AAC), which can be low-tech (picture or word board) or high-tech (such as a speech-generating device).