10 Questions to Ask Your Speech-Language Pathologist About ALS

By

Gina Garippo

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If you’ve been diagnosed with ALS, dealing with changes in your speech can be difficult. But there are ways you can maintain the ability to communicate, even if you lose your ability to speak.

Working with a speech-language pathologist (SLP), commonly referred to as a speech therapist, can help you learn how to preserve your speech as much as possible. You can also learn to communicate using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. Taking these steps can greatly enhance your quality of life, allow you to express your needs, and help you maintain strong connections with others.  

Be Empowered, Act Now

It’s common for people with ALS to put off addressing their communication needs. This is especially true if your speech hasn’t yet been greatly affected. However, the ideal time to talk with an SLP is before you need speech assistance. You’ll learn that there are many compensatory strategies, everyday tools, and communication devices that can help people with ALS communicate. Adjusting your communication style early on will help you maintain close relationships and support if your speech deteriorates.

Get Informed

Ask your neurologist to recommend an SLP, or find a multidisciplinary ALS team that specializes in changes related to ALS. Before your appointment, jot down a list of questions and concerns, or have a family member do it for you. Then bring the list along, and you’ll be prepared to get all the information you need.

Here are 10 questions to ask your SLP about communicating with ALS:

  1. What are the stages of communication disability that I should be aware of with ALS?

  2. Are there ways to reduce fatigue and preserve speech?

  3. In what ways can I compensate for speech difficulties so I’m better understood? (Slow down? Use hand gestures?)

  4. What ways can I best connect with my loved ones?

  5. Should I consider voice banking?

  6. What types of communication devices can help me at this stage of the disease? Which can help address future changes in speech?

  7. What is the benefit of using them?

  8. Which specific devices do you recommend I try? Is financial support available for these devices?

  9. How can I use communication devices if I have or develop physical limitations?

  10. Is there a support group I can join?
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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 28, 2017

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