Give the gift of speech: Peter Kahn  – Ataxia

Give the gift of speech: Peter Kahn 

Give the gift of speech: Peter Kahn 

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.  

Want to give the gift of speech? You can help people like Peter by donating to our Big Give Challenge between midday 30 November and midday 7 December and DOUBLE your donation at no extra cost! 

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