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S1_PERSP-23-00102utianski.mp4 (56.59 MB)

Diagnosis and treatment of FAS (Utianski & Bridge, 2024)

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Version 2 2024-02-14, 20:25
Version 1 2023-12-05, 22:04
posted on 2024-02-14, 20:25 authored by Rene L. Utianski, Michael J. Bridge

Purpose: When nonnative speaking patterns emerge following neurologic insult or injury, it has often been referred to as foreign, or nonnative, accent syndrome (FAS). In many other cases, FAS can occur as a manifestation of a functional speech disorder (FSD). The purpose of this clinical focus article is to (a) describe the methods utilized in identifying and managing a functional communication disorder characterized by nonnative speech, language, and nonverbal communication intrusions, accompanied by a functional movement disorder and (b) describe the patient’s lived experience.

Method and Results: The patient is a 59-year-old monolingual English-speaking gentleman with a remote history of episodic stuttering, who later developed an abrupt onset of a nonnative speaking style that changed in quality over time. He also developed gait difficulties that, after visiting with several neurologists, were judged to reflect a functional neurological disorder. During the speech evaluation session, an “Eastern European accent” was noted, along with nonnative word use and word order. A diagnosis of FSD characterized by foreign accent was made, and intervention was undertaken as detailed in the clinical focus article and demonstrated in the accompanying video. With behavioral intervention, the patient was able to correct sound-level changes in structured tasks such as reading and repetition and then in conversation. Language dialect–like changes resolved without direct intervention. The nonspeech movement disorder was addressed with intensive occupational and physical therapy.

Conclusions: The patient presented with functional FAS, which was effectively managed with symptomatic, targeted behavioral intervention. His experience demonstrates the importance of patient advocacy in acquiring an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management recommendations.

Supplemental Material S1. Video of patient with functional nonnative accent syndrome and progress throughout intervention.

Utianski, R. L., & Bridge, M. J. (2024). Identifying and treating functional “nonnative [foreign] accent syndrome”: Perspectives from the patient and speech-language pathologist. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 9(1), 49–57.