Parkin­son’s suf­ferer ghts for S sup­port for speech ther­apy


PARKIN­SON’S PA­TIENT Elan Shoff­man strug­gles with a speech im­ped­i­ment as a re­sult of his con­di­tion.

He de­fied ex­pec­ta­tion to give the fa­ther of the bride’s speech at the wed­ding of his daugh­ter Amanda Gale — but only af­ter rais­ing more than £3,000 from a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign for speech ther­apy for which there is lim­ited NHS avail­abil­ity.

Now the Bore­ham­wood-based 65-year-old has made a short film about his ex­pe­ri­ence and is urg­ing MPs to lobby their lo­cal NHS bod­ies to clar­ify speech and lan­guage ther­apy avail­abil­ity for Parkin­son’s suf­fer­ers.

“NHS sup­port for speech ther­apy has been re­duced and it is now a post­code lot­tery, leav­ing many with costly pri­vate ses­sions,” the for­mer Is­raeli Navy of­fi­cer com­plained.

“I was lucky to have the sup­port of so many peo­ple to back my speech ther­apy so I had the con­fi­dence to speak at my daugh­ter’s wed­ding.

“But MPs should speak up to en­sure their con­stituents can ac­cess de­cent speech ther­apy ser­vices if needed.

“I was hav­ing ses­sions once ev­ery four to six weeks on the NHS. It was not enough to see an im­prove­ment.”

The money raised al­lowed Mr Shoff­man to have weekly ses­sions. “You have no idea how frus­trat­ing it is hav­ing some­thing on the tip of your tongue but not be­ing able to say it,” he added.

“You feel hope­less and help­less. It makes me not want to see friends or go out.” He can no longer drive and has moved into sup­ported liv­ing.

Speak­ing at the wed­ding last Au­gust in front of 250 guests “felt amaz­ing. They all came up to me af­ter and said it was the best speech.”

The bride was “re­ally ner­vous when dad walked up to do his speech. I was wor­ried he would stut­ter or just freeze in front of ev­ery­one.

“Within min­utes he had us in tears and by the end there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as dad re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion.

“I am so proud of him. I know it is an honour he didn’t want taken away from him.”

But Mr Shoff­man’s speech has de­te­ri­o­rated since the wed­ding as he can­not af­ford the reg­u­lar ther­apy ses­sions.

“I find it hard to have con­ver­sa­tions with friends. It is just re­ally frus­trat­ing.”

The film will be shown to an au­di­ence of friends and in­ter­ested par­ties at a re­cep­tion at Ort House, Cam­den, on Fe­bru­ary 23.

Speak­ing at my daugh­ter’s wed­ding felt amaz­ing’

Elan Shoff­man with daugh­ter Amanda on her wed­ding day

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