Causes of Stuttering
There is a growing consensus that there are many causes that influence stuttering. The currently accepted theory is that stuttering is related to both genetic and environmental influences.
Some of these causes or influences include:
- Family dynamics
- A family history of stuttering
- Childhood development
A stroke can lead to neurogenic stuttering. Conversely, severe emotional trauma can lead to psychogenic stuttering. Stuttering may also run in a family because of an inherited abnormality in the part of the brain that governs speech and language is passed on.
Treatment for Stuttering
In the great majority of childhood cases, stuttering will resolve on its own. However, in some children and adults who stutter, speech therapy will be needed. The best candidates for speech therapy among those who stutter include:
- Have stuttered for three to six months or more
- Struggle with stuttering or have emotional difficulties due to stuttering
- Have a pronounced stutter
- Have a family history of stuttering
Therapy for stuttering often focuses on controlling speech patterns. This is accomplished by encouraging the child or the adult to monitor their rate of speech, breath support, and laryngeal tension.
Parents and other loved ones can help with stuttering by helping the patient feel less self-conscious about the stutter, listening patiently, and setting aside time for talking. A speech therapist can also assist a parent with learning when it is appropriate to correct a child’s stuttering.
All of this said, there are some techniques that can be practiced to help control and even get over stuttering, though it is important to note that there is currently no cure for the disorder.
Focus on Breathing
Before social interaction or a period that will require prolonged speaking, it is important to take time to relax and just breathe. Deep breathing can help to reduce anxiety, which may be one of the psychogenic reasons behind stuttering.
Focus on maintaining a slower rate of speech. Remember to pause between sentences and words. While speaking, continue to monitor breathing and take deep breaths when necessary to control anxiety.
Have a close friend or family member take time to sit with you and just talk. Practicing speaking in a safe environment where you are comfortable can help you feel more at ease. This can lead to you being more aware of how your speech sounds. You may also want to consider joining a self-help group of other people who stutter. This will allow you to learn other coping mechanisms you might not have tried before.
Speak with a Rhythm
Did you know that many people report that stuttering disappears when they sing? This is partially due to the controlled, smooth rhythm that singing requires. You might want to imagine that you are about to sing before speaking. Also, putting a controlled rhythm into your speech patterns may also help with stuttering.
2015 research indicates that people who visualized interactions and rehearsed speeches ahead of time improved their fluency of speech. It also affected their own self-evaluation of performance. If you feel nervous, visualize the words before you pronounce them. Doing this can boost confidence as well as help them feel more in control of their interactions.
Stuttering is a common speech deficiency that can be helped. If your child or a loved one has developed a stutter, having them evaluated by a speech language pathologist can help to determine the best kind of therapy to help them both in the short and long term.