3.2.3 Observing Changes in Verbal Status

Speech disorders affect the vocal cords, muscles, nerves, and other structures within the throat.  Depending on the reason for the speech disorder (injury, disease processes, situations at birth, strokes, paralysis), your assessment of speech abilities will help the client receive the care and assistance needed. Furthermore, if the client is actively receiving therapy to assist in the process, your report on the up-to-date status will help in the therapy plan.

Conversation with clients is an opportunity to assess their verbal status.

Symptoms you will want to be aware of and observe for are as follows:

  • How are they using the muscles of the mouth? Is this normal for that client?
  • Do they have physical changes inside of the mouth? Have their dentures been rubbing the tissue? Do they need to see the dentist?
  • Does their voice sound the same? Are they hoarse or unable to make sound come out of their mouth?
  • Are they repeating words or mumbling words, sounding out words longer than needed, losing their words or descriptions of things while talking, becoming frustrated while talking, or pausing during sentences to try and concentrate on correcting what is not coming out correctly?

For further information on some speech disorders, please see Speech Disorders: Causes, Signs, and Diagnosis.

If you observe that the client’s speech has changed, advise your supervisor immediately. Some changes may lead to emergent health concerns.

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