How can I make myself stop stuttering?Can a stammer be cured?How do you help a child with a stammer?
If you are looking for the answer to above question then this is a must-read article for you.
Stuttering is also known as stammering, or speech disfluency. If you want to stop stammering permanently, this article is for you.Stammering is a disorder characterized by the repetition of words, sounds, or syllables, halting pronunciation, and uneven rate of speech.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, this speech disfluency affects around 5% of children of age two to five.
It usually stops as the child matures, but in some cases, it can continue to adulthood. There are cases in which a child starts to stutter after the age of eight, in which the disorder will most probably not resolve with aging.
In this article, you can find about the different kinds of treatment that can be opted to stop stuttering as well tips to help the stammerer and some wrong beliefs that should be strictly avoided.
Types Of Stuttering/Stammering
Stuttering can be of two main types:
1. Developmental Stuttering:
It commonly affects children below five years of age during the development of their communicative abilities. It is said to be more common in boys, and it resolves itself with time.
2. Acquired Stuttering:
The condition is acquired in later years or even in adulthood. It can be further classified into neurogenic and psychogenic.
i. Neurogenic Type:
It is of neurogenic type if it is caused by incidents that cause abnormalities in the signals between the brain and the speech muscles. It can be the result of head injuries, tumors, strokes, drug abuse, etc.
ii. Psychogenic Type:
It is called psychogenic stuttering if it takes place as a result of a traumatic experience associated with grief or stress due to various reasons. Its onset is sudden. It originates in the part of the brain that controls reasoning and thoughts.
Apart from these reasons, stuttering may also be caused by hereditary factors and environmental stress during childhood and development.
Characteristics of Stammering
The main characteristic of stuttering is the repetition of words, syllables, sounds, and a disrupted speech rate. There is difficulty in pronouncing certain sounds, and the stress that arises from this can be manifested as:
- Facial tics, trembling lips, eye blinking, tension in the upper body.
- Frustration, hesitation, fear, and refusal to speak.
- Long sounds and intercalation of extra sounds or syllables in between words.
The treatment for developmental stuttering is not necessary in the majority of the cases as it gets solved with time as the child matures. When stuttering continues beyond age ten, or when it starts at this age or later, treatment becomes an option.
Cause Of Stuttering/Stammering
The possible causes of stuttering can be summarized as follows:
a. Incomplete development of speech and language. It is seen in small children that are learning to speak.
b. Injuries of the brain or the sound producing organs can cause a disrupted production of sound.
c. Tumors, strokes, or drug abuse can cause abnormalities in the normal functioning of the brain and its control over several muscles and organs.
d. Extreme grief and chronic stress affect the part of the brain that controls the reasoning and thinking processes.
Treatments To Stop Stammering Permanently
1. Speech Therapy For Fluent Speech:
These therapies aim at removing the disruptions in speech and improving the self-esteem of the patient. It controls the pattern of speech by encouraging the monitoring of the speech rate, the breath, and the laryngeal tension.
Speech therapies can be taken by stutterers and by those people that are willing to help them, like parents, family members, or close friends.
2. Electronic Devices:
Devices that can help in the treatment for stuttering include hearing aids worn to create a background noise that helps stimulates distraction and in turn, reduces self-consciousness and stuttering.
Another type of device encourages the stutterer to lower the speed of talking by recording their voice and playing it a fraction of second later.
Dopamine antagonists drugs have been used to treat stammering and reduce it by 50%. These drugs block the dopamine receptors and are used for severe disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, they often have very adverse side effects.
4. Support groups:
Joining a support group, listening and sharing experiences, and realizing that there are other people with the same condition improves the attitude and confidence of the Stammerer. It encourages speech and boosts the self-esteem. Many of these associations are monitored by language specialists and joining a group is sometimes the part of therapy.
5. Low-stress environment:
Creating and maintaining the stress-free surroundings are important in numerous therapies, and the treatment for stuttering is one of them.
Let us read about the treatments in detail
Speech Therapies To Stop Stammering
For the best results, speech therapies should be carried by specialized speech therapists or pathologists. However, they also depend on the stammering level, the determination of the individual, and the underlying causes.
This helps to control the stammering while talking.
Stammering may disappear completely or may recur after some time from the completion of the therapy.
Some of the therapies that can improve the fluency of speech are:
1. FLUENCY SHAPING:
This treatment involves taking the following steps:
- Slowing speech, prolonging sounds, and adding pauses while speaking.
- Relaxing the speech muscles with the help of a calm breathing, vocal chords, and articulation parts (lips, jaw, tongue).
- Breathing from the diaphragm. The way you breathe affect your emotions.
- Psychological help to reduce anxiety, shyness, and fear of speaking with a stutter.
After 12 to 24 months, the overall result of these techniques is a fluent speech that is, however, slow and monotonous. But after this first step, the speech rate and intonation start improving and becoming more normal.
2. MODIFICATION THERAPY:
It focuses on reducing the severity of the stammering when it takes place, by reducing the mental discomfort and fear, that stammering produces. It is based on accepting the condition and embracing oneself.
Its stages are as follows:
- Identification of the behavior and the feeling of the stammerer towards their condition.
- Desensitization: It involves the acceptance of the condition and encouraging “voluntary stammering” to do so. It aims to eradicate avoidance behaviors.
- Modification: It consists in the learning of “easy stammering” techniques by stopping at disfluency moments, pausing, and repeating the word in a clearer way. Slowly, the speech starts to be fluent.
- Stabilization: In the final stage, the stammerer practices the acquired skills and his stammering changes from being continuous to occasional.
3. STAMMERING ACCEPTANCE:
The patient is made to accept his stammering to get free from the stress that causes the unacceptance of the same. When the stress reduces, confidence increases. This leads to a more fluent speech.
How To Stop Stammering Naturally
There are a few things that the stammerer can do at home to ease and speed up the treatment. These include:
1. Exercises To Stop Stammering Permanently:
These exercises aim at strengthening the organs that are associated with speech and generate sounds, such as the tongue, lips, jaw, trachea, and lungs. They can reduce stammering and even cure it if they are practiced regularly, especially before going to sleep in the night.
a. Vowel Pronunciation
Pronunciation of the vowels A, E, I, O, and U in a clear, loud, and over-articulate way such that the face muscles distort every time the vowels are pronounced.
b. Tongue Stretching
Open the jaws as wide as possible and lift the tongue such that its tip touches the roof of the mouth. Now, draw the tip backward such that it stretches to the maximum and hold for a few seconds. Make sure it does not hurt.
The next step consists in pulling the tongue out of the mouth and stretching towards the chin for a few seconds. Repeat this exercise 4 to 5 times.
c. Deep Breathing Or Breathing Exercises
It consists of deepening the breath. These types of exercise are done to strengthen the respiratory organs and to relax neuromuscular tension. Some deep breathing patterns are as follows:
- Inhaling deeply through the mouth and immediately exhaling slowly.
- Inhaling deeply through the mouth and pushing out the tongue while exhaling.
- Breathe deeply through the mouth and simultaneously pressing inwards the chest muscles, then exhaling slowly.
Do not practice these exercises during an excessive time or with an excessive intensity.
d. Fast reading
It consists of reading a text as fast as possible without stopping at any word or syllable, ignoring the possible mistakes.
This practice helps in the subconscious identification of every word, and it focuses on the speed of speech rather than the quality. It relaxes the muscular tension and thus corrects speech obstructions if efficiently practiced for 2 to 3 months.
Singing and participating in theatrical activities frequently helps the stutterer in controlling their breath and the phonatory muscles. It encourages exposure and confidence.
f. Mirror speaking
Speaking with oneself in front of a mirror can help in boosting the confidence of the stammerer and enhance the results of the speech therapies.
Many times, stuttering is caused by stress in the body, especially in the areas that surround the throat. Relaxing these areas, such as the neck and the shoulders can release tension and ease the speech.
Visualizing that you are in front of someone that makes you feel comfortable can make the speaking process easier by reducing the nervousness. Visualizing the words and having a clear picture of what is to be said also helps.
2. Lifestyle Changes To Stop Stuttering:
Certain aspects of the lifestyle of the stammerer should be given special attention to work towards a more fluent speech. The steps include:
The sensations of fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness can aggravate stammering. That is why it is recommended to maintain peaceful and positive surroundings at home and the workplace. This should be specially taken care of while treatment is going on.
b. Fighting the inferiority complex:
Building self-confidence helps in speaking without fear and stress. Many times, fighting the inferiority complex is the key to the cure of stammering. For this, maintaining a peaceful environment is very important.
c. Controlling the breath:
Breathing from the belly helps in relaxing the tension in the muscles and the nervous system. It helps in lowering nervousness and in producing a more fluent speech.
d. Family support:
The people that are close to the stammerer should let them know that they can count on them for support and care. It will help in boosting confidence and the therapy results. The measures include being speaking slowly, listening patiently, and avoiding reactions while the stutterer speaks.
3. Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Stammering:
Chewing certain foods like Amla (Indian Gooseberry), almonds, black pepper, cinnamon, and dry dates can clear congestions in the throat and benefit the organs of speech.
- Massage your head with lukewarm Brahmi Oil.
- Eat powdered black pepper with butter.
- Use Cow’s ghee in the food that is beneficial.
- Causticum herb also helps in this.
4. Stop Stammering By Yoga:
- Yoga helps to reduce stress and keeps your body fit.
- To stop stammering, you can do basic poses including pranayama and kapalbhati.
- Practice lion pose, crocodile pose and triangle pose.
- Simhasana / Singhasana Yoga also helps to cure stuttering.
Myths and Wrong Beliefs Associated With Stammering
Stuttering is a complex and variable disorder that intensifies depending on external and internal factors, and the situation in which the stutterer is while speaking. This feature of the condition leads to wrong beliefs and myths that should be avoided. They include:
i. It will go by itself:
In cases in which stuttering starts after the age of 10 or in adulthood, it is very rare that it heals by itself. Taking measures to correct stuttering can help in achieving normal speech earlier.
Stutterers often feel alone and different. This is not true; there are around 67 million people in the world that share the condition. The feeling of isolation can be avoided by joining support and therapy groups.
Stuttering is not the fault of the stutterers nor their parents. The cause is known, and the condition can be suffered by practically anyone. It has been shown that accepting the condition helps in reducing the stutter.
iv. That stuttering inhibits success:
Stuttering is not a sign of low capability. There are several people in human history that were known for their smartness, talent, and success. These include Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Marilyn Monroe to mention a few.
People that stutter may think that they are wasting the time of the listener with their disrupted speech and that they are not worthy of appreciation. Once again, this is entirely wrong. Every person has their flaws and imperfections, and that is what makes us all equally beautiful in different ways.
Stammering is a condition that has no specific cure, the therapies require determination, but they need more patience. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the condition is no crime, and it is okay to stutter.