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  • Lori Melnitsky

An overview of cluttering as a speech disorder…

When speech becomes cluttered with faulty phrases, repetitions, fillers, unrelated words, and unintelligible terms, it leads to a communication disorder. With cluttering, speech becomes difficult to understand, and people speak at a rapid rate. This fluency pattern makes it difficult for listeners to understand the style of speaking. There’s an irregular rhythm, marked by inappropriate pauses along with unfinished words and sentences. Although, during conversations they are asked to repeat often, people with cluttering issues are unaware of their deficits. Stuttering and cluttering are closely related to fluency disorders and can also co-exist. With the help of an experienced speech-language pathologist, they can easily help you identify the communication disorder and develop a treatment plan.

Assessment for cluttering

Speech therapy for cluttering must be customized to the needs of the person seeking treatment. As per the cluttering assessment paper published by Yvonne van Zaalen-op ‘t Hof, Florence Myers, David Ward, and Ellen Bennett Lanouette, they suggest that every speech-language evaluation must include a detailed case history to determine the right treatment. From birth and developmental history to hearing screening, several factors are taken into consideration while preparing a case history. Some of the assessment methods recommended include:

  1. Oral reading: Although the omission of syllables and words may occur, with oral reading it will limit the possibilities for language formulation difficulties. The speech therapist will provide, the person with cluttering issues with varied difficulty levels in reading materials.

  2. Spontaneous speech: Another recommended treatment is to encourage conversations with a more relaxed exchange on interesting topics. Informal and spontaneous conversations make it easier for the speech therapist to identify cluttering behaviors and rectify them on the go.

  3. Articulation: This assessment method includes giving the client a mixture of short and structured tasks as well as longer and less structured tasks. This will indicate any difficulty they may have with speech intelligibility.

  4. Language: Besides all of the above, it is also imperative to assess the language skill of your client with cluttering concerns. For instance, you may notice word-finding problems, the ability to paraphrase, poor syntactic structure, and lack of coherence amongst several others.

While these are some of the most common assessment techniques to identify cluttering  it is difficult to diagnose. The clinican also tends to monitor writing and if any other disorders co-exist with cluttering. Based on the evaluation and analysis of the report, speech-language pathologist prepares a detailed treatment plan customized to meet the needs of their clients.

Treatments for cluttering

Over the years, there have been several therapeutic strategies developed to resolve cluttering. But, it’s important to always start with an evaluation to identify your client’s difficulties and create a treatment plan that suits their challenges.

Some of the most common goals that clients seek out through cluttering treatments include slowing rate, heightening monitoring, using clear articulation, reducing excessive disfluencies, and normal pitch. With the help of cluttering therapy and treatments, they are hoping to be able to speak naturally with acceptable and organized language. Over articulated speech, awareness of communication breakdowns, self-regulation of rate through recording conversations are the most popular techniques adapted by speech-language pathologies to help clients with cluttering issues.

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