Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects both children and adults throughout the US and around the world. But when the doctor hands you this label, what makes up the ingredients of the diagnosis?
Most people understand the basics like excitability and difficulty focusing. But, many do not know about ADHD and stuttering.
Understanding ADHD and Stuttering
Is there a link between the two? Research over the years makes a strong case to suggest it.
One speech study revealed that 50% of the participants who stuttered also had ADHD. To better understand this link, let’s take a closer look at stuttering and ADHD.
What Is Stutter?
Stutter refers to a type of speech impediment where the flow of communication gets disrupted. This results in broken speech.
With a stutter, you will hear:
- Abnormal stoppages (silence)
- Repetitions (re-re-re-peti-tions)
- Prolongations (prooooooolongations)
This can disrupt social life and make the person very self-conscious. It is one of the many ADHD struggles.
This neurodevelopmental disorder presents with three main characteristics, hindered attention span, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. People who suffer from it may find it difficult to follow directions, ignore distractions, complete tasks, or think prior to acting,
They often fidget and talk excessively without listening. At times, they may exhibit signs of aggression. These ADHD struggles impair them at home, in school, and in other social settings.
The three subclassifications include ADHD predominantly inattentive type, ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, and a combined type. How do these affect the brain?
Stuttering and the ADHD Brain
Though doctors typically diagnose ADHD based on symptoms, you can physically see signs of it in the brain. This is the focus area of the disorder.
The ADHD brain contains smaller structures in the frontal lobe. Some of these areas include the amygdala, thalamus, and hippocampus, and contribute to socialization, impulse control, concentration, and emotional regulation.
Aside from these physical differences, researchers have also discovered functional disturbances in the Broca’s area of the frontal lobe in participants with ADHD. This might cause speech issues and poor articulation seen in people with ADHD.
Research indicates that a lack of blood flow to the Broca’s area causes people to stutter. Somehow, these abnormal brainwaves connect to this lack of blood flow affecting ADHD social skills.
How to Cope
Moving through life with a stutter, especially when also dealing with all the other effects of ADHD can be challenging. For young children, it can disrupt their ability to learn and make friends.
Adults may also face serious problems with normal socialization. It can affect their relationships and working life.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent stuttering. Specialized programs designed for preventing a stutter significantly improve learning, socialization, and overall quality of life.
You can also try some of the following tips on your own in conjunction with the program!
Stress will only increase your stutter and worsen your other symptoms of ADHD. Learning to control your breath will help you calm yourself, slow down, and focus. It can also help regulate your emotions.
For one good exercise, sit or lie down comfortably. Start breathing in the air slowly through your nose at an even pace until your lungs feel full.
At this point, pause for the count of three. Take one large inhale to top it off and then hold for the count of 5.
Slowly exhale from your lips with them only partway open. When you feel like you let out all of the air, pause for 3 seconds.
Blow out one more time with force and then pause for 5 seconds. Repeat.
This will also help you practice the following procedures, another struggle for those who suffer from ADHD.
When you speak quickly, the tongue can get tied. As you speak, the brain signals can get crossed easily.
Make a conscious effort to speak slowly. Practice this at home.
Read your favorite books out loud and make purposeful pauses when you feel the stutter coming on. Over time, you will notice a big difference in your speech.
Avoid Bad Words
This does not necessarily mean to avoid swearing. Just watch what you say.
Whenever possible, write down the words that brought on your stutter. If you notice a pattern with any of them, avoid those words altogether in social situations.
But, at home, practice saying these words slowly. This may help.
If certain words persistently make you stutter even with practice, then look up synonyms in the thesaurus. Raising this awareness for yourself can also help you regulate some of the other symptoms of ADHD.
For the Parents
Watching your child struggle with everyday activities and normal speech can feel overwhelmingly heartbreaking. But, you are not completely powerless.
Children especially benefit in specialized therapy for kids when dealing with stuttering and the other effects of ADHD. Also, work with them at home on the suggestions listed above.
To help minimize their frustrations, try out the following tips.
Negative reactions to your child’s behavior or speech will only impede their progress. This includes anger, frustration, and even sadness.
Of course, it is normal to feel these things, but try your best to express them in private.
Or, calmly talk with them about why something they did made you feel that way. You can also benefit from some of the breathing exercises.
Your child may feel a lot at once and not know what to do with it all. This can create an overwhelming sense of anger and frustration.
Listen to them, even when they say things in a way you do not like. Explain a better way to express it later.
Listening will also reduce frustrations with their stutter. Needing to constantly ask them to repeat themselves will only make them feel frustrated and embarrassed.
This means staying patient. It might take them a long time to say something.
This time will only increase if you get antsy or start doing something else as they speak. Give them the time they need whenever possible.
Reach out for Help
ADHD and stuttering can significantly affect life, whether you suffer from it yourself or are a parent. Know that you are not alone.
We offer a number of specialized therapy programs to help people with speech difficulties because we know that what they have to say is important. Schedule a free consultation today!