• Foreign Accent Syndrome

    (FAS)

    Definition

    Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is a rare and acquired speech disorder. If you have FAS, you adopt what sounds like a foreign accent, even though you may never have traveled to that particular country.
    Stroke—Common Cause of Foreign Accent Syndrome
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    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    FAS is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls the rhythm and melody of speech. The damage may be due to:
    FAS is also linked it to other symptoms, such as:
    • Aphasia —communication disorder that can affect the ability to understand and express language
    • Speech apraxia —speech disorder that affects the ability to make sounds, syllables, and words

    Risk Factors

    These factors increase your chance of developing FAS:
    • Being at high risk for stroke
    • Having aphasia or apraxia
    Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.

    Symptoms

    The symptom of foreign accent syndrome is a distorted rhythm and tone of your speech, such as:
    • Making vowel sounds longer and lower (eg, changing English “yeah” or German “jah”)
    • Changing sound quality by moving tongue or jaw differently while speaking
    • Substituting words or using inappropriate words to describe something
    • Stringing sentences together in the wrong way
    If you have FAS, you may be able to speak easily and without anxiety. Other people are able to understand you. The “accent” that you have adopted could be within the same language, such as American-English to British-English.
    Symptoms can last for months or years or may be permanent.

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
    • Psychological evaluation (to rule out psychiatric conditions)
    • Assessment of language skills, such as:
      • Tests to assess reading, writing, and language comprehension
      • Use of recordings to analyze speech patterns
    • Examination of muscles used in speech
    • Electroencephalogram (EEG) —a test that records the brain’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the brain
    • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the brain
    • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the brain
    • Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan—an imaging test that shows blood flow in the brain
    • PET scan —a test that produces images to show the amount of functional activity in the brain
    Since this condition is rare, you will most likely be evaluated by a team of specialists, including:
    • Speech-language pathologist
    • Neurologist
    • Neuropsychologist
    • Psychologist

    Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
    • Speech therapy—You may be taught how to better move your lips and jaw during speech.
    • Counseling —Since FAS is a rare disorder, you may feel isolated and embarrassed. Counseling can help you and your family better cope with the condition.

    Prevention

    Since FAS is closely linked to stroke, follow these guidelines to prevent stroke:
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Eat a healthful diet .
    • Quit smoking and limit how much alcohol you drink.
    • Maintain a healthy weight .
    • Check your blood pressure often.
    • Take a low dose of aspirin if your doctor says it is safe.
    • Keep chronic conditions under control.
    • Call 911 if you have symptoms of a stroke, even if symptoms stop.
    • Do not use drugs .

    RESOURCES

    Foreign Accent Syndrome Support http://www.utdallas.edu/research/FAS/

    National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/splash/

    Speech-Language Pathology Website http://home.ica.net/~fred/index.htm

    References

    About FAS. Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) Support website. Available at: http://www.utdallas.edu/research/FAS/about/ . Accessed September 8, 2012.

    Garst D, Katz W. Foreign accent syndrome. ASHA Leader. 2006;11:10-11,31.

    Miller N. Foreign accent syndrome. Not such a funny turn. Inter J Ther & Rehab. 2007;14:388.

    Foreign accent syndrome. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2006/060815/f060815c/ . Updated August 2006. Accessed September 8, 2012.

    Reeves, R, Burke R, Parker, J. Characteristics of psychotic patients with foreign accent syndrome. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2007;19:70-76.

    Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. 28th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005; B14;117;125; 1314

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