Many years ago, early in my career, there was an argument that existed, that if a deaf child was taught sign language, it would be a disincentive to speak. One only has to spend some time with deaf adults to see that they communicate using all of the tools available to them, including sign language and speech, and while speech might be how we are programmed biologically, even greater than speaking, is our desire to communicate, in all the ways necessary including: voice, gestures, writing, facial expression, and so on.
When augmentative speech aids are recommended to a patient following a stroke or a patient losing their speech to a neurodegenerative disease, patients and/or families may express their own fears, that use of a speech aid will deter the individual from speaking. In those instances, it is important to remind patients and caregivers that communication is the overarching goal, with all of its subsequent benefits, including patient autonomy and decision making.
Shifting the focus from a disability itself to the functional abilities of a person can facilitate a more positive conversation about implementing use of assistive technology to facilitate communication. In doing so, individuals can see the value that speech devices add to a person’s’ life by promoting participation in meaningful conversation.
The false assumption that the use of a speech generating device or speech aid hinders natural speech,or decreases motivation to communicate, must be combated. Research suggests that the use of speech aids assist in the motivation toward, and acquisition, of improved communication following a stroke or for persons with neurodegenerative disease diagnosis.
A speech generating device such as the Lingraphica® for a patient with aphasia, a voice amplifier for a person with a weak voice, a neuro-prosthetic speech device like SpeechVive for a person with dysarthria from Parkinson’s disease, or an eye gaze system https://eyegaze.com/ for someone with severe speech loss from MSA (multiple system atrophy) or ALS are all examples of assistive technology being used to preserve communication and dignity in the face of a speech disabling medical condition.
To learn more about speech aids, or to schedule an evaluation, please visit: https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/voice-aerobics-private-practice/
Happy New Year wishing health and happiness
My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower.
Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP