X. Speech Disabilities
A. Basic Information
Speech disabilities vary in type and degree. Some may include difficulty with voice strength, fluency, aphasia which may alter the articulation of certain words, or voicelessness. Occurrence of speech impairments may be congenital, or due to an injury or illness.
B. Interaction Considerations
The key to interacting with a person with a speech related disability is patience. It is in no ones best interest to pretend you understand someone if you do not. Repeat what you understand, and allow the individual the time to "fill in the blanks." The following is a list of other considerations to keep in mind through your interactions:
- Encourage self-expression, but do not pressure the person to speak.
- Be patient and allow the person to complete what they are saying without interruption. Wait ... do not assist unless you are asked.
- Ask if writing may be easier than speaking.
- Allow the use of assistive devices such as "speaking machines" or computerized synthesizers.
- Anxiety can aggravate a speech disability.
- Do not insist that someone with a speech related disability talk in a group.
- Allow one-on-one communication if necessary.
- Communication boards, symbols, and cards for commonly used words greatly aid persons who have difficulty with speech.
- Consider exchange of non-essential job duties, i.e. trade answering the telephone with other needed tasks.
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