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City Hosts Dysarthria Awareness Day

City Hosts Dysarthria Awareness Day

People with a disorder that causes speech problems were given the chance to tell their stories loud and clear when the first ever Dysarthria Awareness Day in the world was held in Sheffield.

The event was set up by the Human Communication Sciences department at the University Of Sheffield and backed by organisations such as the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Giving Voice and Living With Dysarthria.

Dysarthria occurs when the muscles used to talk are weak or a person has difficulty controlling them. It most often results in slurred slow speech that can be difficult to understand. Common causes of dysarthria include nervous system disorders – f0r example Parkinson’s Disease or strokes – and conditions that cause facial paralysis or tongue or throat weakness. Certain medications can also cause it. Other symptoms can include either speaking too loudly or too quietly, too quickly or with a raspy, nasal or monotone voice.

However the disorder is not widely known – even among medical professionals – so the HCS department and its Masters students in speech and language therapy organised the day with stalls set up, information given out and the chance to meet some people who have dysarthria.

Among those taking part was Disability Sheffield volunteer John Quinn.

He said: “I used to work as a journalist, which involved speaking to people a lot. However one of the reasons I had to retire early was because a deterioration in the neurological condition I have had since childhood caused me to develop dysarthria which makes it difficult for me to talk nowadays.

“Others tend to make assumptions – often that I’m drunk or just stupid – and I have ended up in plenty of embarrassing, upsetting and even intimidating situations because of this, so anything that spreads the word about the effects of dysarthria is fine by me.”

“I attend term-time sessions at HCS, during which I’m mentored by an MA student and then join up with other people with dysarthria and their mentors for games and quizzes. It’s very helpful and good fun so I was happy to be involved. I hope the event catches on and becomes a national or even international one.

John is pictured at Sheffield University’s The Wave building with two of the students who took part, Melanie (left) and his latest mentor Hannah.

The day was publicised with an article in ShefLive, written by a journalism student at the university and the HCS department’s X (formerly Twitter) site also posted the day’s highlights and other information about the event on its feed.



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A fantastic presentation thought provoking and good questions from the floor around promoting this film/message to the general public not just professionals.
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When I moved to Sheffield nearly five years ago it was my "go to" organisation. I expect it to stay that way. All the staff and volunteers seem to pull out little gems of effort that disabled people like me couldn't do without. Professionally and personally - I love em :)
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Disability Sheffield is a forward-thinking, energetic organisation doing a lot of positive work in Sheffield. I have no doubt they will continue to do so for a long time to come.
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Very good presentation, brave of the speakers to tell their stories and had a very high impact - feedback from Mate/Hate Crime presentation and video session at Safeguarding Working Together Conference
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