Slurred speech. How did it start?

Dear all,

I read the "slurred speech" post with interest. Many people replied to that post, so I'm guessing that it is not an uncommon symptom.

If I can ask. How did it start? Was it immediate? One day normal speech, difficult/slurred speech the next?

I don't have any actual slurring. Yet? But I have noticed recently, that I talk as little as possible (which is slightly out-of-character), and when I do speak, I speak very quietly - and my voice is hoarse (as if I'd been singing loudly for a week).

Does anyone recognise these symptoms?

Thanks, Iain

26 Replies

  • Hi Iain,

    Whilst I don't recognise those symptoms specifically, I think that my speech is beginning to go. I seem to be ok in normal conversation but over the last few weeks, I have noticed that when I read my daughter her bedtime story I am struggling to read aloud clearly. Last night it was especially hard! I fear that this is the top of a slippery slope!

    This difficulty presents itself as difficulty with pronunciation mainly and on certain words or phrases - for instance, saying 'Jemima Puddle-Duck' (she loves Beatrix Potter!) was really hard to say clearly. I find myself having to really slow down and try and read clearly.

    Take care.

  • I seem to have similar speech problems as yourself Jay. I sometimes find it hard to articulate words/phrases fluently. I also often forget key words in sentences.

  • Thats what happened to me I was talking normal one moment then when someone asked me something my speach went all slurred then when I rested it went back to normal ,my husband usually notices when my speach goes before me these days which means ive been overdoing things Ive worked out after 15mins that I need to rest whatever im doing .It also affects speach if I get too cold so havent been getting out much lately roll on warmer weather

  • hi Iain mine was through my stroke, as i had a stroke before being diagnosed with ataxia

  • Hi Iain

    I have problems generally in the morning or if I get stressed. Sometimes it is quite bad. Waiting to see a speech therapist.


  • Hi Iain

    With my partner this was gradual, actually the thing that set off the process of eventual ataxia diagnosis. A friend said how it was getting harder to understand her on the phone and maybe we should check with Dr. I hadn't really noticed just put the odd word down to overwork. Her scans seem to show this is the aspect she is worst affected in I think, so I guess although it's a common problem for many, like all aspects of ataxia it affects everyone differently. Inevitably the extra concentration needed for whichever aspect is hardest hit at any time means she gets more tired so it gets even harder to do, a vicious circle! Re the quiet voice, she finds regulating volume and tone difficult so has taken ages to build up the confidence to talk much especially to new people also gets knocked back easily ! Speech therapist was great and helped enormously.

  • Dear Lain, My slurred speech was a gradual process (until I read your post, I never really thought about it). I was diagnosed with my ataxia twelve years ago, but had very minor symptoms starting about eight years before diagnosis. I find I'm more understandable if I speak slowly and I also slur more when tired/ fatigued/ stressed or if I try to talk too much. Some days I speak more clearly than other days, as my husband seems to understand me better and doesn't say "pardon me" as much...,ha! Also, I used to be able to sing decently, but not so much anymore, as my voice control is gone. Often times, if I'm in a group of friends, I want to add something to the conversation, but don't, as it's too difficult. Therefore, I've become a really good listener! I also start to cough at times when speaking/laughing, which is VERY annoying, as well as embarrassing to me! I see a speech pathologist a couple times a year for a tune-up, as she's given me great tips for speaking and eating/drinking liquid, etc. You might say I'm use to the "deer in the highlights" looks I get from people when they don't understand me! Even thou I slur my speech most of the time, I feel blessed that I'm still able to talk! My best to you..., ;o)

  • Thanks for all of the replies. From reading them, tiredness/fatigue seems to be a common factor. And cold too. It's rather chilly in Scotland at the mo - so perhaps the cold is having an effect on me too.

    Jay, yes, the start of a slippery slope. That's how it feels. My other symptoms appear to be progressing quite slowly though (balance/walking), so I was a bit surprised that I'd noticed something else. Hopefully, speech disability will progress slowly too though.

    Iain :)

  • I have slurred speech for as long as I remember,i try and talk slowly when I know its bad and yes I do talk more loudly,this I don't know why?? All the best Lorraine Benyon

  • yes I have noticed the slurred speech if I try to talk too quickly or when I am tired the speech therapist gave me some exercises to do to improve the speech

  • Hi Iain and hello everyone (I'm new to this site). I have Friedreichs ataxia. I usually find that my speech slurs if I'm over tired or have overdone things. I've also noticed that its worse if I'm stressed (as are all my symptoms!) and if I get too cold. But yes, like you it was fine one day and then suddenly started to deteriorate.

  • Hi Becca. Thanks - and welcome!

  • Yes, Iain, I recognize those symptoms. Agree its not slurring per se but my voice volume has decreased. That has to do with less air i n the diaphragm . My voice is also hoarse (frequently). Not on your list: labored speech. (Feeling like my tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth)

    Finding that some words,like "cookie", or, "sister", are super hard to pronounce.

    And cold, stress and fatigue does make speech pathologies worse. Best,


  • I completely agree with your "less air" Neta.

    Completely unrelated to ataxia, but I had childhood asthma (haven't had an attack since I was 14 (a few years ago now). As a result of this I've always had to be pretty active (swimming, cycling ever day) to keep lungs functioning well (they don't develop fully with childhood asthma). It is just a result of ataxia making me relatively less mobile these days. And the physio I'm seeing now, agrees that this inactivity (or less activity) will become more of a problem as I remain less able to be active enough to give my lungs a good workout.

    A guy with ataxia I spoke to in London swears by his static, recumbent, exercise bike. So I'm seriously looking into this for later.

    Iain :)

  • Interesting. A stationary bike is a good thing. So is reading aloud. I read 5 (NYT) newspaper articles daily and it does expand the diaphragm. I may not answer you because it is the Jewish Sabbath and my husband is very religious. So bye for now

    Best wishes


  • Reading aloud! What a marvellous suggestion (I'm really annoyed that I didn't think of this). As part of the problem is undoubtedly my reluctance to talk, or to be as brief as possible, then my voice muscles are not being used as often as they should.

    So reading out loud it is. THANK YOU Neta :)

  • Sabbath is way over. Off to the dentist now. Ugh. More pain. Should I tell him of my "marvelous" CA?

  • Hi Ian,, hope you find this site useful , I know I did when I struggled with Craig , slurred speech is very much a part of ataxia, it differs from person to person ,, Ataxia research had come a long way since 2004 when my son was Diagnosed ,, I do hope things are going well for you at the moment & keep up your fighting spirit p

  • Hi Shirley. And thanks for your reply. Hope that you are well today.


  • This is a great site ,I found it very helpful speaking to people who had Friedricks ataxia ,it's always nice to hear other peoples opinions / struggles / and how they cope with which ever type ataxia they have ,Continue your fight in gaining recognition ,your fund raising will not go un-noticed & you may even get more supporters on here x

  • Hi Iain Yes reading aloud is good 4 u, free and helpful. Also, another; fill your stomach with air by breathing and say "ahh" aloud as you let the air out.Ignore the breaks in the voice. I was stuck for a long time on15 seconds (before no more voice emerged) and now have it up to 20 seconds. See what your wife or anyone healthy can do. N


  • My speech isn't slurred Iain. I find it difficult sometimes to articulate words properly and forget key words in sentences. Depending on what I'm trying to say sometimes I'm fine.

  • Interesting dialogue!

    I'd always thought my speech problems were due to breath control (one of the first symptoms I noticed was that my exhaling got 'ragged') I find my speech is ok if I'm relaxed and interested, but not if I'm under pressure and/or tired.

    I hate using the phone because I can hear my speech coming out in little puffs, which gets distorted.

  • Hi my partner is having so much pain in his joints is this normal?

  • A friend of mine was diagnosed with Cerebellar Ataxia about 5 months ago and his walking and speech have got a lot worse over these last couple of months. Does anyone else have a speech problem such as stammering. His has got really bad, but I am wondering if this is more from stress and anxiety from the diagnosis rather than a symptom of the ataxia. Would welcome any comments please as would like to help him with this situation. He is also very depressed and cries a lot but is battling on.

  • Hi when I am at work people say I drunk. Because I slur my words and look tired. Is it The symptoms of ataxia?

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