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What is HD

Effects on Communication

Why Communicating Can Be Hard  

Having a conversation with someone requires thinking, using muscles in your mouth, and breathing. All three of these functions are impaired in someone with HD. 

When someone has a hard time communicating, they can feel angry, irritable, disorganized, depressed, anxious, and frustrated.  

The hardest parts of communication for someone with HD are: 

  • Understanding what is being said to them. Even if the meaning of each word is understood, when put together in a complex sentence or paragraph, it can get jumbled. Speaking in shorter, easier to understand sentences helps with understanding. 
  • Starting or responding in a conversation. There may be a long delay before someone answers your question. It’s important to give the person with HD plenty of time to respond so that you know what they want.   
  • Explaining. Thoughts and speech can come out disorganized and sound random or incoherent. 
  • Speaking Clearly. Slurred speech and changing from speaking softly to loudly are common in HD. Long pauses between words occur more as the disease progresses. People with HD are sometimes accused of being drunk. 

Emotional and Social Factors May Interfere with Communication 

Mood symptoms, depression and anxiety may reduce a person's interest in communicating. If someone perceives someone else isn’t giving them enough time to respond or is treating them rudely, they may not choose to communicate.  

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