MSA Trust

04. Speech

By the time of getting a diagnosis of MSA many people have noticed changes to their speech and for some there will already be profound impairment of speech.

Being able to communicate with others is how we share who we are, what we want them to know about us and helps to express ourselves. Fatigue, infections, acute illness and falls all impact on MSA speech, so when coping with these situations, speech will become even more effortful and may be much more difficult to understand. At these times, you need a system you can use to get the essential information across to others.

Exploring the wide variety of communication aids and tools, seeing which work well for you, then practising using it, even if your speech is still good, will be time well spent. Many aids can be pre-programmed with phrases and topics of conversation, which are easier to do in the early days with MSA than later. Discussing with a Speech and Language Therapist what is available and asking about voice banking as soon as possible is a good idea. Voice banking is when you have a synthetic version of your voice put onto any digital communication aid. The pre-programmed phrases or anything you type in will be said and sound similar to you. We offer a voice banking service through our partners ‘My Own Voice’ and you can find out more about it here – https://www.msatrust.org.uk/support-for-you/for-people-affected-by-msa/voicebanking/.

Whilst there is a range of technologically based communication aids it is always useful to develop more basic aids too e.g. picture boards and communication books for days when technology fails or you are just too exhausted to do more than point at something. A simple laminated card with yes/no or the really important things you want to say and communicate may be very helpful, enabling you to communicate, wherever you are – even in the shower or bathroom. An example communication booklet can be found here – https://www.msatrust.org.uk/support-for-you/living-with-msa/communication/.

Key messages

  • Request a referral to a Speech and Language Therapist as early as possible
  • Consider voice banking early on
  • Start exploring communication aids and try them out if you can
  • Practice using a communication aid you have identified that suits you – build up a portfolio of phrases and topics
  • Develop your picture board / communication book.

The MSA Trust is here to support anyone affected by MSA. If you have any questions about the information on this page, please contact us and we will do our best to help you.