Speech and language management

The details

  • There is a well-documented pattern of speech and language deficits in some children with DMD, including problems with language development, short-term verbal memory, and phonological processing, as well as impaired IQ and specific learning disorders. These do not affect all children with DMD but should be looked out for and helped if they are present.
  • Delay in attainment of early language milestones is common in boys who have DMD compared to children of the same age. The differences in gaining and improving language may be something that can be seen across childhood. It is important that this problem is looked for and treated. Evaluate and treat for delayed speech and language problems.
  • Referral to a Speech Language Therapist (SLT) for speech and language evaluation and treatment is necessary if problems in this area are suspected.
  • Exercises for the muscles involved in speech and help with articulation are appropriate and necessary for both young boys who have DMD with difficulties in this area and in older individuals who have deteriorating oral muscle strength and/or impaired speech intelligibility.
  • For older individuals, compensatory strategies, voice exercises, and speech amplifications are appropriate if it becomes difficult to understand the person with DMD due to problems with respiratory support for speech and vocal intensity. Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA) assessment may be appropriate at all ages if speech output is limited.

Information based on consensus statement (published in January 2010)