As if the stress of teaching were not enough, now educators are faced with troubling findings published by the Mayo Clinic in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias: a clinical study of individuals with speech disturbances showed that afflicted teachers were over three times more likely to develop “progressive speech disorders” than they were to come down with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). According to the study, those suffering from the diseases affecting speech can have severe difficulty with pronunciation and fluency, and the disorders often lead to death.
Of course, there is no cause for alarm if a speaker has an occasional senior moment or difficulty speaking due to a physical impediment, or even just a bad case of nerves when speaking in front of a group, but like AD, these dementias can progress to something much worse.
Holly MacCormick who is a writing intern in the Stanford medical school Office of Communication and Public Affairs says that Keith Josephs, the lead author of the Mayo report, thinks that because teachers are more likely to notice any difficulties they have with speaking, these individuals can consult with medical professionals for early diagnosis of the problem. Josephs' assumption seems logical, since of course spoken communication is basic to the teaching profession, one with hundreds of thousands of reading and language arts educators. With breakthroughs in the treatment of dementia becoming more and more likely, such early diagnoses are essential.
The Washington Post reports that Josephs hopes to raise awareness of these diseases. The researcher points out that because the afflictions had not received wide publicity until recently, the public is only now learning how prevalent speech dementias are.