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Coping Mechanisms for Stuttering

More than 70 million people around the world are affected by stuttering, which includes more than 3 million Americans. Stuttering is also often referred to as ‘stammering’ or, in children, “childhood-onset fluency disorder” and is more commonly seen in males than females.

Individuals who stutter often repeat sounds, syllables, or words or prolong certain sounds. Stuttering typically affects the normal flow of speech through interruptions, which are also called blocks. They may also exhibit irregular or abnormal movements or expressions.

Thorough research has stated that an estimated 5 and 10 percent of all children will experience stuttering at some point. For every 1 in 4 children, however, stuttering persists beyond childhood into adulthood and, in some cases, can become a lifelong disorder. Early intervention with speech therapy can have major benefits in helping a child to overcome their stuttering.

If your child is struggling with a stutter, speech therapy is a resource that can help them overcome their communication challenges. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!

What Causes Stuttering?

While experts do not yet fully understand the exact cause of stuttering, genetics are believed to be a significant contributing factor. Current knowledge suggests that stuttering can be classified as related to one of the causes listed below:

Developmental

Developmental stuttering is the most commonly diagnosed form of stuttering. It typically occurs in young children who are in the early stages of developing their speech and language skills and is likely to be due to multiple factors, including genetics.

Because of its genetic factor, developmental stuttering can run in relatives and families. Studies have shown that approximately 60% of individuals who have issues with stuttering also have a family member who stutters.

Neurogenic

Neurogenic stuttering typically occurs as a result of brain trauma, such as from a stroke or traumatic head injury. Following the injury, the brain struggles with the coordination of the mechanisms required for speech production.

Psychogenic

Many years ago, doctors and scientists agreed that the cause of all stuttering was psychogenic, which means it was caused by emotionally traumatic events. This is now considered to be a rare cause of stuttering.

Can a Stutter be Cured?

While there is no exact ‘cure’ to stuttering, early intervention through speech therapy has been proven to reduce instances of stuttering and prevent childhood stuttering from continuing into adulthood.

Speech therapy for stuttering can go a long way towards reducing and eventually eliminating stuttering through the use of a wide variety of methods and approaches. Don’t wait to get started with speech therapy; schedule your free introductory call today!

How Do I Overcome My Stuttering?

Outside of working with an experienced speech and language pathologist, there are a few techniques and exercises that can be practiced at home to help with stuttering. Many people struggle to cope with a stutter, and any of the following coping mechanisms can be helpful:

Practice Speaking Slowly – Making your speech more deliberate by speaking at a slower pace can go a long way toward reducing stress and instances of stuttering. Practicing speaking slowly each day can be incredibly helpful. Adding brief pauses between words or phrases can also help to slow speech and reduce stuttering.

Avoid Trigger Words – Individuals who struggle with stuttering shouldn’t feel that they must stop or avoid the use of specific words. With that being said, some individuals may want to avoid the words that are particularly challenging for them or often cause them to stutter. It can be helpful to compile a list of ‘trigger’ words and alternative words that can be used instead.

Try Mindfulness Techniques – Mindfulness practices have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, which can be contributing factors to persistent stuttering. Research suggests that there is a strong connection between the positive effects of mindfulness practice and the traditional tools that are used to manage instances of stuttering. These benefits include:

Decreasing the Use of Avoidance Strategies (speaking less frequently, for example)
Enhanced Emotional Control
Increased Acceptance

According to a recent study, the addition of mindfulness practices such as meditation to a stuttering treatment program can have major benefits for individuals who struggle with stuttering.

Practicing mindfulness can include joining a meditation or yoga class, downloading a meditation or calming app, simply going for a peaceful walk in nature, or watching and following along with online videos.

How Do I Stop My Fear of Stuttering?

While there is no immediate cure for stuttering, research has shown that certain situations that create stress, fatigue, or pressure can increase instances of stuttering and worsen the problem. Effectively managing these situations as much as possible can help to improve the flow of speech.

A speech therapist can help manage situations in which stuttering is ongoing or gets worse, and treatment is typically most effective when started at an early age, but can be effective at any stage. Those who struggle with stuttering as an adult, and parents and other caregivers with children struggling with stuttering should enroll in a speech therapy program if:

They have been struggling with stuttering all of their life
A child’s stuttering persists for more than 3–6 months
They are showing signs of struggling with stuttering, such as lip tremors
There is a family history of stuttering or other communication difficulties
Stuttering is impacting work or social interactions
A child is difficult to understand and becomes self-conscious about their stuttering

While speech therapy may not eliminate stuttering altogether, the goal of treatment at any age is to improve speech fluency, build confidence, and help them succeed in academic, professional, and social settings.

Speech Therapy for Stuttering

Speech therapy can help individuals learn to:

Slow down their rate of speech
Bring awareness to when they stutter
Manage situations in which stuttering is worsened
Work on developing a fluid speech pattern

Studies suggest that speech therapy is the best form of treatment for adults and children struggling with stuttering, with a large and long-standing amount of evidence that supports its efficacy.

The Bottom Line

Early intervention is highly important for children who stutter, and most children will outgrow it as they grow and develop. Approximately one-quarter of these children, however, will continue to stutter into adulthood. For adults and teens who continue to struggle with stuttering, consistent exercises with a trained speech therapist is important for managing stuttering and developing good practices for improving clarity.

While there is no immediate cure for stuttering, speech therapy can be incredibly effective in helping individuals gain control over their speech and communication. Mindfulness interventions can also help with some managing aspects of stuttering and decreasing stress and anxiety around speaking.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a stutter, speech therapy is a highly beneficial resource. Get started on the path to clearer speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!