Stuttering is a speech disorder in which your normal flow of speech is impaired by sounds, syllables, or repeated or prolonged words. In addition to the challenges of trying to speak clearly, it might affect your behavior, causing you to become flustered and display actions like lip tremors or rapid blinking. Stuttering often starts in childhood but can carry through adulthood.
According to the National Institutes of Health, stuttering can considerably affect your day because it makes routine conversation more difficult and you might have a harder time expressing your thoughts or opinions clearly. Because of this, you might find that you limit your social activities or shy away from anything where you may have to speak to others, which could affect your mental and physical well-being. If this is the case, you may want to consider booking an appointment with a speech therapist or scheduling a visit for your child to help improve the stutter.
Stuttering and speech therapy
If you haven’t already received a diagnosis, the speech therapist will first determine if you have a stutter. He or she will listen for disfluencies and disruptions in your speech, according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). The therapist will have the skills necessary to detect characteristics of a stutter.
A therapy provider will then perform an evaluation to determine the severity of your condition. During this session, the speech therapist will make a note of how many and what types of disfluencies you experience in different situations. He or she might also examine the various ways you react and cope or ask about outside influences that worsen the condition like teasing or having to speak in public. Through the evaluation, the therapist can determine how severely the rest of your life is affected by your stutter.
The process will be somewhat different for children than it is for adults. For younger kids, the speech therapist will want to determine if the stutter will continue later in life, which may be based on a family history, stuttering for six months or more, the presence of other speech or language disorders and the severity of the stutter. For older children and adults, the goal is focused more on how to deal with this condition, as it’s become a problem in daily life. In these cases, the therapist will help patients to communicate better, speak more fluently and participate more fully in activities.
There is no one cure-all for stuttering, so speech therapists might try a variety of techniques to see what you respond to best. Many programs will include a behavioral aspect to help you learn specific skills to improve oral communication, such as discovering how to control the rate at which you talk. You might also be taught to say certain words slower or monitor your breathing.
It’s important for parents to know that in addition to seeing a speech therapist, children with a stutter can be helped at home. You can do so by providing a relaxing environment, speaking positively about the child’s condition, being patient, and speaking in a slow and relaxed manner when addressing the child.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.