Speech and Swallow
I am an FAer and I have problems with my speech and swallow. I have noticed people with FA often rank speech and communication problems as one of the top three symptoms of their condition.
Did you know it takes about 100 muscles speak? Muscles that have to work in close collaboration and with precision. FA attacks the body’s ability to coordinate its muscles, including those used to speak and communicate.
Problems communicating can have significant impact on people:
- frustration with others and themselves about not getting the message across
- negative self-image or depression
- less motivation to speak with others, leading to social withdrawal and isolation
Tools I have been given to help me are;
- Exercises to strengthen the head and neck control to aid with swallowing difficulties.
- Humming and vocalisation exercises to enhance voice projection.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing to reduce breathlessness.
Another area I am told I could explore is Voice Banking;
Voice banking has 3 options, Voice Build, Voice Repair and Voice Design which will allow anyone with FA to have a synthetic voice that sounds how you want, no matter how badly your voice is already affected. Ask your speech and language therapist if you are a candidate for voice banking.
Voice Build is a synthetic replica of your own voice that can be used in your communication device. This is ideal for people whose FA is likely to impact their speech but who have not yet had any significant symptoms.
This is for people who have already noticed considerable changes in their speech. For example, if you struggle articulating some words or sound more breathy than normal, Voice Repair can repair this damage in your synthetic voice.
This is for people who have no intelligible speech and enables you to design your synthetic voice based on your chosen characteristics such as regional accent, age, and gender.