When dysglossia is a speech disorder. It is triggered by damage to the organs of speech and is usually manifested by an unclear manner of speaking and a slower speaking pace on the part of the patient. The dysglossia can be treated with speech therapy measures.
What is dysglossia?
According to Aviationopedia, the term dysglossia comes from the Greek (“Glossa” – the language). Dysglossia is an articulation disorder caused by damage to or malformations of the articulation organs: lips, tongue, jaw, palate, teeth and vocal folds.
In general, the patient with dysglossia has difficulty pronouncing certain sounds. The language often appears slowed down, slurred and unclear in pronunciation. Other symptoms of dysglossia can include sensory disturbances in the area of the lips, tongue, or palate. Paralysis of the facial muscles can also occur, as can frequent hoarseness, nasal problems or compulsive clearing of the throat.
Since the speech organs are also responsible for the swallowing process, the dysglossia patient can also suffer from significant swallowing disorders, the so-called dysphagia. This can lead to feelings of pressure or pain while swallowing, sometimes gagging and rarely complete inability to swallow.
There are many possible causes of dysglossia. Often, as a result of accidents in the neck and face area, trauma and thus injuries to the organs of articulation occur.
It is also possible that the organs of speech are affected as a result of certain operations. Tumors in the articulation area or certain muscle diseases can also impair the speech apparatus and thus lead to dysglossia.
Another reason can be a tooth or jaw misalignment, such as the cleft lip and palate (formerly also called “harelip”), as well as damage to certain cranial nerves that are connected to the corresponding organs of articulation and can thus lead to their paralysis.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
With this disease, those affected suffer from a language disorder. This leads to damaged organs of speech, so that sounds cannot be pronounced correctly. This also leads to difficulties in communication, so that the patient’s everyday life is significantly restricted and the quality of life is reduced.
Those affected often pronounce words indistinctly or cannot articulate themselves correctly. Dysglossia can also cause sensitivity disorders in the oral cavity, so that the tongue or throat are numb or cannot perceive tastes properly. The manifestations of dysglossia can be very different.
All the muscles in the mouth are paralyzed as a result of the disease, so that most of those affected also suffer from discomfort when ingesting food and liquids. As a result, dehydration or weight loss can also occur.
In children, dysglossia also results in delayed development and, in some cases, bullying or teasing if the children cannot pronounce words correctly. Furthermore, many patients also suffer from depression and other mental disorders due to the disease. As a rule, life expectancy is not negatively affected by the disease.
A detailed examination is indicated precisely because of the multitude of possible causes of dysglossia. The anamnesis is usually carried out by an ear, nose and throat specialist or a specialist in voice disorders, a so-called phoniatrist.
Here it is first determined which sounds are affected by the pronunciation disorder and to what extent the speech organs are impaired. A general distinction is made between labial dysglossia (affecting the lips), dental dysglossia (affecting the teeth), lingual dysglossia (here the tongue is affected) and finally palatal dysglossia (the palate is affected).
Once the symptoms are isolated and defined, it is a matter of determining the treatment goal. This is followed by the creation of a treatment plan and the referral to a speech therapist.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the case of congenital dysglossia, the child’s parents should speak to the pediatrician or a speech therapist at an early stage. They can determine the symptoms and work with the parents to determine a treatment goal. If speech disorders occur after an accident or an operation, it is best to inform the attending physician. Here, too, the earlier the complaints are recognized, the better the chances of recovery. So if you notice that you can no longer pronounce certain sounds correctly, you should inform your doctor immediately.
Even the slightest speech disorders need to be clarified before they get worse. After all, the symptoms are often based on a serious condition that, if left untreated, increase and possibly lead to further complications. In the event of side effects such as difficulty concentrating or tongue pain, the doctor should always be consulted. Other contact persons are the ear, nose and throat doctor or a specialist in voice disorders, a so-called phoniatrist. If the language disorder has caused psychological complaints, a therapist can also be called in.
Treatment & Therapy
Dysglossia is usually treated with speech therapy. Depending on the severity of the case, this can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis. Since dysglossia is a disorder of the ability to communicate, which can severely impair daily life and so often also leads to problems with self-confidence, therapy is usually quite time-consuming.
There are a multitude of possible therapeutic approaches that the patient, guided by the speech therapist, learns and must implement through frequent training and practice if he is to be successful. Relaxation plays an important role here. The overall body tension is harmonized through exercises, the inner and outer body tension is brought back into harmony – e.g. by circling, swinging, breathing, making sounds. Breathing rhythmic movements should help to harmonize speech breathing and speaking itself.
If there are sensory disorders, work is done on the position and sensation of the tongue. The sensory perception of the dysglossia patient is trained through certain exercises. Further training contents are, for example, resistance exercises, sound function work, palate training, tongue training, lip training and special swallowing therapy.
By working with breathing, speech and voice teachers, the patient’s complex speech apparatus is addressed as a whole. Ultimately, it is particularly important to transfer the exercises learned into everyday everyday language in order to increase self-confidence and thus bring about progressive relaxation in the patient.
Outlook & forecast
Dysglossia has a good chance of recovery. In speech therapy, trainings and exercises are carried out with the patient, which lead to an alleviation of the symptoms. After a few weeks or months, the first successes that are of a permanent nature usually occur. In the further course the child catches up with the language ability or the speed of speech until it is at a comparable level of performance with its peers.
In therapy, homework is given that enables children to exercise daily based on their progress. The additional use of relaxation techniques is helpful. These can also be carried out independently outside of therapy. They reduce inner tension and pent-up stress, so that a mental balance is created. This is necessary in order to ease breathing and thereby improve symptoms.
Exercises such as sounding or chanting mantras and other vocal methods help to make a favorable prognosis. The patient can use these techniques in the company of others or alone and thus have a positive influence on the success of the treatment. To increase self-confidence, it is helpful to give the child a sense of achievement in a playful way. The better the leisure activities are adapted to support the needs of the child, the shorter the healing path.
Preventive measures to prevent dysglossia can only be taken in the area of acquired misalignments – for example, by using a pacifier for too long on babies or sucking the thumb.
In the case of dysglossia, the patient has only very limited options for follow-up care. The person affected is primarily dependent on the direct treatment of this disease so that there are no further complications or other complaints that would slow healing. For this reason, early detection of the disease is in the foreground in the treatment of dysglossia.
In most cases, the dysglossia is treated with various therapies, with those affected mostly relying on relaxation therapy. Many of the exercises from these therapies can also be performed in your own home, so that healing is accelerated somewhat. The person affected is often dependent on the support of their own family and friends.
They must understand the disease and help the person affected with the therapy. Often, intensive discussions with the patient are necessary in order to prevent possible psychological upsets or depression. As a rule, the affected person cannot heal themselves. Contact with other patients with dysglossia can also be useful, as this often leads to an exchange of information that can make everyday life easier.
You can do that yourself
Patients with dysglossia cannot pronounce certain sounds correctly and are also hampered in eating due to difficulty swallowing.
Problems with speaking are treated after a thorough medical examination, usually by a speech therapist. The patient’s cooperation is required here. Complex therapy is required, especially in the case of more severe forms of dysglossia, when the patient also suffers from sensory disturbances in the area of the lips, tongue or palate. The often extensive training plan includes resistance exercises and voice exercises, tongue and palate training as well as numerous different breathing exercises to harmonize speaking.
The exercises usually need to be repeated frequently and over a long period of time. In addition, it is important that the patient applies what they have learned in everyday life. A lot of patience and a high level of frustration on the part of the person concerned are required here. It usually takes a considerable amount of time before the progress made in training with the speech therapist can also be realized in everyday dialogues.
The most important contribution to self-help is therefore not to be discouraged by the slow progress of the therapy and to continue practicing consistently. In the course of time, not only will the problems with speaking improve, but also the difficulty in swallowing, which will allow normal food intake to be restored.