Foreign Accent Syndrome
DefinitionForeign accent syndrome (FAS) is a rare 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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CausesFAS is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls the rhythm and melody of speech. The damage may be due to:
- Stroke , which is the main cause
- Trauma to the brain, such as a sharp blow to the skull
- Brain hemorrhage
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain tumor
- Aphasia —a communication disorder that can affect the ability to understand and express language
- Speech apraxia —a speech disorder that affects the ability to make sounds, syllables, and words
Risk FactorsFactors that increase your chance of developing FAS include:
- Being at high risk for stroke
- Having aphasia or apraxia
SymptomsThose with foreign accent syndrome speak in a distorted rhythm and tone, such as:
- Making vowel sounds longer and lower such as changing English “yeah” to German “jah”
- Changing sound quality by moving the tongue or jaw differently while speaking
- Substituting words or using inappropriate words to describe something
- Stringing sentences together the wrong way
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done paying particular attention to the muscles used in speech. A psychological evaluation may also be done to rule out psychiatric conditions.Your language skills will be assessed. This can be done with:
- Tests to assess reading, writing, and language comprehension
- Use of recordings to analyze speech patterns
- Speech-language pathologist
TreatmentTalk 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.
PreventionSince FAS is closely linked to stroke, follow these guidelines to prevent stroke:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthful diet .
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit . Also talk to your doctor about how to 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 for emergency medical services if you have symptoms of a stroke, even if symptoms stop.
- Do not use drugs .
Foreign Accent Syndrome Support—University of Texas at Dallas
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Speech-Language and Audiology Canada
About FAS. Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) Support website. Available at: http://www.utdallas.edu/research/FAS/about/. Accessed November 23, 2014.
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/. Published August 15, 2006. Accessed November 23, 2014.
Reeves, R, Burke R, Parker, J. Characteristics of psychotic patients with foreign accent syndrome. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2007;19:70-76.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014
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