Speech Disorders/intermittent stuttering

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Question
A few years ago I was having problems stumbling and falling.  One day I woke up and could not speak properly.  I knew what I wanted to say but it didn't come out of my mouth correctly.  I was admitted to the hospital for 5 days and underwent every test known to man.  I didn't have a stroke, no lesians in my brain, etc.  I left the hospital with no diagnosis.  I have seen neurologists, neuropsychologists and still no diagnosis. (One of the neurologist said I may have had a traumatic childhood experience manifesting..., this after seeing me for a total of 20 minutes.)  I went through speech therapy and after several months I was finally back to speaking normal (like I had before that morning).  It has been almost a year and a half since I started speaking normal and yesterday I started stuttering again.  Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer
Hi Kim,

I am sorry you have been having so much trouble with your speech.

As always, I have to point out that I am not a doctor or speech therapist.

When I think of your question above, regarding visits to neurologists, speech difficulties, possible head or brain problems, then I also think of what happens when a car has an electrical problem.  Very difficult to figure out.  Hmm....is it the alternator or the circuit breaker??  "The mechanic I took my car to last week said something different!"  Very frustrating!!

Your effort to figure out where your speech problem is coming from will likely be determined by several factors.  First, by seeing the right board certified doctors, who can apply their training and experience in the medical field.  Second, what types of remedies, therapies or medications that are used to treat you.  Third, by being your own best medical detective and advocate.

I would like to focus on the third factor....."being your own best medical detective and advocate."  Remember, as you work with medical professionals, they are providing their best knowledge and experience to help educate you while you are at their office.  But there is no doctor, that follows you around 24/7.  Only you can truly see yourself at all times.

The good news is that you mention that you had gone to speech therapy for several months and eventually recovered to the point of "speaking normal."  Although you have now had a relapse, I would like for you to think about all those things you did to recover the first time. Which Speech Pathologist worked with you?  Perhaps, go back to that same person and start your therapy again.  Think about what other conditions were present in your life at that time.  Did you have a less stressful job?  Or maybe your relationship or living environment was more conducive to your health, happiness and wellbeing.  What kind of medications were you on then compared to what you are taking now?  The idea here is to figure out what was successful in the past, and to recreate that scenario again.

So again, going back to the idea of being "your own best detective and advocate" could be your best path to recovery.  Only you know how you are responding 24/7 to treatments and medications.  Only you know, what foods, exercises and activities are going on in your life around the clock. When visiting your doctors, therapists, etc., give them lots of feedback.  Remind them of positive treatments that have worked for you before.....especially during that time you mentioned that you got better.  Most doctors offices are very busy places with lots of patients, so they may not remember in detail all of the little nuances that apply just to you.

I can't say this enough....involvement in figuring out what will heal yourself is a critical factor in getting better.  Be proactive in your efforts. Try going on Amazon.com and look for a self help book that seems similar to what you are going through.  TIP:  On Amazon....in addition to finding those books that have high recommendation ratings, also note how many reviews there are.  A book that gets five stars, but only two reviews matters less to me, then a book with a 4 star rating but was reviewed by fifty people.

Good luck to you and let me know how things turn out!

Regards,
Jonathan
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Speech Disorders

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Jonathan - Patient Point of View

Expertise

My area of expertise from the patients point of view would be TMJ plus the speech challenges that these jaw and bite problems sometimes represent. Over the years I have seen a multitude of dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, speech therapists, neurologists and other health professionals who all had an opinion about my bite problem. I am not a doctor, but would purely be a patients point of view type person. I "get it" when people say they tried to explain to their dentist what their bite problem is and that they are misunderstood. I can listen to people's trials and tribulations and there is a good chance I have been down that road before. I can make suggestions as to what people can do at home, or what questions to ask their doctor or dentist when they visit. ////// I come from a family of dentists. My first house growing up was one of those residential/dentist combination homes and I was around the dental practice all the time. My teeth had always been perfect, and in many respects they still are. I have never had a cavity and my teeth are straight. About 25 years ago, I had my wisdom teeth out and since then my bite has never felt "normal." I have learned a lot over the years as I tried to figure out my problem from the Dentists, Speech Pathologists and assorted doctors that I have visited. I will try and recall information or experiences that may be helpful to you.

Experience

Twenty-Five years ago after my wisdom teeth were removed, my bite did not feel right and then had trouble speaking. For whatever reason, the first sensation I remember was not that my bite was off.....but rather that my normal tongue and speech patterns had been impeded. The years of searching for proper treatment has underscored the importance of understanding the relationship between dental and speech methodologies.///// To this end, and to further my research, I recently attended the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention (ASHA) in Atlanta. At ASHA I learned about a specialty within Speech Pathology termed “Orofacial Myology”. In laymen's terms Orofacial Myology Disorder (OMD) deals with the establishment of correct functional activities of the tongue, lips and jaw. OMD is a motor speech disorder that impacts the normal flow of speech, chewing or swallowing.///// If you believe that your struggles with your teeth also present speech, chewing or swallowing challenges, you may want to seek out a licensed Speech Language Pathologist.....preferably one that has training with Orofacial Myology Disorder.

Organizations
Project Management Institute

Publications
Abridged Version of a Letter I Sent to a Health Care Professional (3/14/13): "..In my early 20's I had my wisdom teeth out. Almost immediately within a few days, something did not feel right in my mouth. I had trouble speaking. When I raised my tongue to try and touch my palate, I felt mostly just teeth. It is very cumbersome to talk and my bite also became a little bit off. If feels almost as if someone put a fork in my mouth and said "now try and speak." Very difficult. My articulation is fine, so to an observer I sound normal. But it takes a monumental effort, so I hate situations like talking on the phone or when somebody asks me to "tell them a story." ..I spent years going to different dentists, who lumped me into their generic version of what they knew about TMJ. They just automatically gravitate to what they have heard about TMJ and assume I am either stressed, or just imagining it. Years later, I look back at all those dentists and doctors and I am amazed at how little they really knew about my condition. I have seen the best dentists, including my dad who is a Orthodontist in New York, to TMJ Dentists in Atlanta and Florida. No one ever suggested that Speech Pathology may be a direction I should explore. ..And I was frustrated by the fact that several MRI's over the years, showed nothing. How could the MRI’s show nothing, and at the same time, I know something does not feel right? I do wear a night guard to sleep in, but it does not fix the trouble that I have when I try to talk. ..I went with a Speech Pathologist friend of mine to the American Speech Language Hearing (ASHA) Convention last October in Atlanta...There was a Speech Pathologist at ASHA who was saying that sometimes when you have your Wisdom Teeth taken out "late" that it could possibly cause damage to the Trigeminal Nerve and surrounding muscles.” POSTSCRIPT: At ASHA, I discovered OROFACIAL MYOLOGY (OMD) which is a specialty in Speech Pathology that addresses Oral Muscular Issues.

Education/Credentials
College Graduate with Bachelor of Arts Degree, Project Management Professional, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist

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