Give the gift of speech: Peter Kahn - Ataxia UK

Give the gift of speech: Peter Kahn 

Post Published: November 30, 2021

Peter Kahn has cerebellar ataxia and tells us how the speech therapy group with Anja Lowit has changed his life. 

I was diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia around seven years ago and I’m 70 years old now. I am retired but used to work as a gardener. 

My diagnosis was relatively easy and straightforward. I noticed that I had been falling over and my speech was slurring but at first, I thought it was my age. I spoke with my brother who has also has ataxia and he suggested I investigate. I referred myself to Queen’s Square in London and saw Prof Paola Giunti. After an MRI and blood tests, I found out I have idiopathic cerebellar ataxia as they do not know which gene causes my ataxia. 

Peter Kahn with quoteMy speech impairment has been quite tough because I’m a very verbal person and my education taught me to express myself through words and talking is a huge part of life. Before diagnosis I didn’t understand what was happening with my speech and I lacked confidence.  

Before taking part in Anja’s speech therapy pilot group I had been involved with speech therapy. However, it didn’t work well for me because it felt mechanical and it wasn’t engaging.  

Being part of Anja’s speech therapy group has made a huge difference. I now have confidence with my speech. Anja has helped to make my speech intelligible by handing out advice and how to put this into practice. Our group still meet twice a week and together we practise the exercises. Since attending the group, people don’t ask “what” like they did before when I spoke, which means my speech is clearerIt has changed my life. 

Speech therapy is crucial for those living with ataxia because ataxia impairs my speech. If I want to learn to cope with the impairment so I can communicate and engage with people like my wife, friends, family… then speech therapy is key. My ataxia gets worse all the time but through exercise groupslike speech therapy, I can try to improve my symptoms and build confidence to not be affected by ataxia. Anja’s speech therapy group has massively, positively impacted my life.  


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