top of page

Cluttering and DM

Updated: Apr 23

Cluttering and DM

As a newborn Michael was in the NICU for just under a month due to respiratory problems. He came home on oxygen but was weaned from that after a couple of months. Except for the first couple of months after his difficult entry into this world Michael seemed to meet the normal milestones in development. He was a happy easy-going child and to this day he is still very easy-going. As a developing baby and toddler he jabbered a lot. It wasn’t until he was 2 ½ when a friend who also happened to be a teacher shared with me her observations that we noticed anything out of the normal development.

My friend told me that Michael had a full vocabulary but the reason that I couldn’t understand him was because he wasn’t able to say the plosive consonant sounds (English has six plosive consonants, p, t, k, b, d, g). In other words all I could hear were the consonants which makes everything run together. At this point we got Michael in to speech therapy.

Michael was in speech therapy off and on until he was 20. One of the things that he tried when he got older was a SpeechEasy. This looks like a hearing aid but it slightly delays what the wearer hears. This is an attempt to make it so that you feel like you are in a crowd. They have found that stutterers don’t stutter when they are saying something in a group setting, like the Pledge of Allegiance. This helped Michael for a few months but then he got to where he ignored it and went back to speaking unintelligibly.

Michael was diagnosed with Myotonic Dystrophy (DM) at the age of 14. When he was around 18 we found out that there was an ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat) doctor that would perform a pharyngoplasty on him. This is where they surgically roll up a piece of tissue that is in the back of the throat. This is to change the shape and function of the soft palate making it easier to close off the soft palate to help with voice projection and making plosive sounds. Michael’s older brother Warren had this surgery because he liked performing on stage and wanted it to help strengthen his voice. Warren also wanted to be a teacher and hoped to have a strong voice. The pharyngoplasty seemed