Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have significant dysarthria that makes your speech difficult to understand, these suggestions may help you communicate more effectively:

  • Speak slowly. Listeners may understand you better with additional time to think about what they're hearing.
  • Start small. Introduce your topic with one word or a short phrase before speaking in longer sentences.
  • Gauge understanding. Ask listeners to confirm that they know what you're saying.
  • If you're tired, keep it short. Fatigue can make your speech more difficult to understand.
  • Have a backup. Writing messages can be helpful. Type messages on a cellphone or hand-held device, or carry a pencil and small pad of paper with you.
  • Use shortcuts. Create drawings and diagrams or use photos during conversations, so you don't have to say everything. Gesturing or pointing to an object also can help convey your message.

Family and friends

If you have a family member or friend with dysarthria, the following suggestions may help you better communicate with that person:

  • Allow the person time to talk.
  • Don't finish sentences or correct errors.
  • Look at the person when he or she is speaking.
  • Reduce distracting noises in the environment.
  • Tell the person if you're having trouble understanding.
  • Keep paper and pencils or pens readily available.
  • Help the person with dysarthria create a book of words, pictures and photos to assist with conversations.
  • Involve the person with dysarthria in conversations as much as possible.
  • Talk normally. Many people with dysarthria understand others without difficulty, so there's no need to slow down or speak loudly when you talk.
April 24, 2015