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Helping Someone Cope With a Speech Disorder

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 21 May 2010 | comments*Discuss
Speech Disorder Loved One Support Listen

It can be hard to watch loved ones struggle with speech disorders, but even more so when it feels like there is nothing you can do to help. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is much you can do to help someone cope with a speech disorder, including learning more about the disorder, listening respectfully when your loved one speaks, becoming involved in your loved one's treatment and fundraising for awareness of your loved one's speech disorder.

Learn About the Disorder

It seems obvious, but many people don't connect learning more about a loved one's speech disorder with helping their loved one cope with that disorder. Learning more about a disorder not only communicates that you are interested in the person suffering from it, but allows you to ask questions and seek support and advice to get a broader view of the disorder. You will likely find that you can make connections with others coping with the disorder and can exchange hints and tips. You never know, you may find out things that even your loved one hadn't known about before and you will also move into a position in which you can explain more about the disorder to others. This may be appreciated by someone tired of, or unable to, give these explanations themselves.

Listen Respectfully

If you do nothing else to help someone cope with a speech disorder, always listen respectfully when that person speaks. Don't interrupt or try to finish his or her sentences, and don't offer advice like "Slow down!" or "Calm down!" if he or she stumbles over words. Also make sure that you offer your loved one the chance to speak at all rather than assuming you know what is best for him or her, or thinking that you are helping him or her by not forcing an interaction which requires speech. Just because someone may not speak as fluently or efficiently as you does not mean that they are any less deserving of the chance to speak.

Become Involved in Treatment

Depending on your relationship to the person suffering from a speech disorder it may make sense for you to become involved in his or her speech treatment. This could mean driving a loved one to a therapy appointment, practicing speech exercises at home or helping a loved one plan or prepare for a situation in which he or she will need to speak, such as public speaking or even speaking during a dinner party. Don't force your ideas of involvement on someone, however. Instead, just ask your loved one if there is anything you could do to become involved in the treatment of their speech disorder that they would appreciate. If the answer is no, respect this decision as well.

Fundraise for Awareness

Even if you don't get to see a loved one with a speech disorder all that regularly, you can still let him or her know that you care about them and want to support them by taking part in fundraisers. Raising funds and awareness for the speech disorder your loved one suffers from is a great way to stay involved and contribute something towards his or her treatment. Running road races, hosting coffee mornings, donating time, money or skills and even volunteering with speech disorder charities are all great options for people looking to become a little more involved.

There are many options for helping someone cope with a speech disorder. Learning more about the disorder, listening respectfully when a loved one speaks, becoming involved in a loved one's treatment and fundraising for awareness of a speech disorder are all ways by which you can show someone suffering from a speech disorder your support.

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