International Stuttering Awareness Day is October 22!
Fluency is the aspect of speech production that refers to continuity, smoothness, rate, and effort.
Stuttering, the most common fluency disorder, is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by repetitions (sounds, syllables, words, phrases), sound prolongations, blocks, interjections, and revisions, which may affect the rate and rhythm of speech. These disfluencies may be accompanied by physical tension, negative reactions, secondary behaviors, and avoidance of sounds, words, or speaking situations.
Cluttering, another fluency disorder, is characterized by a perceived rapid and/or irregular speech rate, which results in breakdowns in speech clarity and/or fluency.
Some examples of stuttering include:
- “W- W- W- Where are you going?” (Part-word repetition: The person is having difficulty moving from the “w” in “where” to the remaining sounds in the word. On the fourth attempt, he successfully completes the word.)
- “SSSS ave me a seat.” (Sound prolongation: The person is having difficulty moving from the “s” in “save” to the remaining sounds in the word. He continues to say the “s” sound until he is able to complete the word.)
- “I’ll meet you – um um you know like – around six o’clock.” (A series of interjections: The person expects to have difficulty smoothly joining the word “you” with the word “around.” In response to the anticipated difficulty, he produces several interjections until he is able to say the word “around” smoothly.)
When talking with people who stutter, the best thing to do is give them the time they need to say what they want to say. Try not to finish sentences or fill in words for them. Doing so only increases the person’s sense of time pressure. Also, suggestions like “slow down,” “relax,” or “take a deep breath” can make the person feel even more uncomfortable because these comments suggest that stuttering should be simple to overcome, but it’s not!
Information from an evaluation done by an SLP is then used to develop a specific treatment program, one that is designed to:
- help the individual speak more fluently,
- communicate more effectively, and
- participate more fully in life activities.
Posted by Emily K. Hulse
Stuttering is a communication disorder that affects around 1% of the population around the world. Many factors contribute to a stuttering problem, including genetics, another speech disorder, neurophysiology and family dynamics. Stuttering can usually be successfully treated through speech therapy and certain home and lifestyle changes, such as joining a self-help group, creating a relaxed home environment, avoiding criticism and having an understanding attitude toward the stutterer. Certain exercises may also help.
Stuttering is more than dysfluent speech: It has an emotional and social impact as well. Unlike most other disorders, stuttering often is a source of shame and embarrassment that prompts stutterers to avoid speaking situations and refrain from discussing their stuttering. Try the following exercises at home.
Just as with the slow speech exercise, reading exercises can reduce stuttering through slowing your vowels, concentrating on your breathing and trying to relax. Read a paragraph out of your favorite book without placing any pressure or stress on yourself to get it right. Just relax and read, trying to enjoy the process instead of focusing on not stuttering. If you stutter, keep reading and don’t blame yourself. Practice reading out loud for half an hour every day.
Seeking help from a Speech and Language Therapist
Speech therapy is not “one size fits all.” Speech therapists use different approaches to treat stuttering and often combine several methods to meet individual needs.
A speech and Language Therapist will carry out an in-depth assessment with the adult or child who stutters and discuss a suitable treatment approach. The Speech and Language Therapist works to help people who stutter lessen the impact or severity of dysfluency when it occurs. The goal is not so much to eliminate disruptions in fluency-which many people find difficult to do-but to minimize their impact upon communication when they do. The aim is not for total fluency but to help the client stammer more easily.
How to support a person who stutters
Stuttering may look like an easy problem that can be solved with some simple advice, but for many people, it can be a chronic life-long disorder. Here are some ways that you, the listener, can help.
- Don’t make remarks like: “Slow down,” “Take a breath,” or “Relax.” Such simplistic advice can be felt as demeaning and is not helpful.
- Let the person know by your manner that you are listening to what he or she says — not how they say it.
- Maintain natural eye contact and wait patiently and naturally until the person is finished.
- You may be tempted to finish sentences or fill in words. Try not to. Use a relatively relaxed rate in your own speech — but not so slow as to sound unnatural. This promotes good communication.
- Be aware that those who stutter usually have more trouble controlling their speech on the telephone. Please be patient in this situation. If you pick up the phone and hear nothing, be sure it is not a person who stutters trying to start the conversation before you hang up.
- Speak in an unhurried way — but not so slowly as to sound unnatural. This promotes good communication with everyone
If you have any questions or concerns, contact Speech Language Pathologist, Christine Wilson.