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What is Dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a speech problem caused by a weakness or a lack of control over muscles in the face, mouth, and respiratory system. Dysarthia may be congenital (present at birth) such as cerebral palsy or acquired such as through stroke or brain injury.  A person who has dysarthria knows which words to use, but may not be able to make the right sounds.

Woman sitting at table with therapist. Therapist has cards with symbols and pictures, and blocks of various shapes.
A person with dysarthria may not be able to make certain sounds and may speak slowly.

Signs of dysarthria

The signs of dysarthria vary with each person. A person with dysarthria may show some or all of the signs listed below.

A person with dysarthria may not be able to do the following:

  • Make certain sounds

  • Speak whole sentences clearly

  • Control his or her tone of voice, volume, or breaks between words

  • Realize his or her speech is hard to understand

  • Control his or her saliva

A person with dysarthria may do the following:

  • Speak certain sounds louder than others

  • Sound harsh or raspy during speech

  • Pause for breath in the wrong places

  • Drop or slur parts of words

  • Speak slowly or in a way that sounds hesitant or halting

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