a man learning how to stop his stutter

How To Stop Stuttering When Nervous

What do President Joe Biden, singer Kendrick Lamar, and actresses Nicole Kidman and Marilyn Monroe have in common? 

They’re people who stutter.

Maybe you know exactly what you’re trying to say, but have difficulty communicating for other people to understand clearly. Perhaps your child can write and understand speech clearly but has difficulty articulating the words they’re trying to say.

Communication can be a challenge for some, and stuttering is a real medical condition. 

Three million people. That’s the number of Americans that stutter.

Stuttering isn’t something to write off — it’s a clinical speech disorder. Stuttering is defined by the repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruptions in speech, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

If you find yourself struggling with what to say and how to say it, you may have a communication disorder that makes normal speech production challenging. 

Is there anything I can do to stop my stuttering symptoms when nervous and make communication easier? You’ll find the answer here, as well as the 15 top questions we hear from people with stuttering.

What causes stuttering? Are there different types of stuttering?

No one knows exactly how stuttering begins, but according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are two potential causes:

  • Family history: those who stutter often have a family member who also stutters
  • Brain differences: minor, neurological differences in how the brain works during speech may be observed in people who stutter

Genetic predispositions of stuttering have only recently been studied as recently as 2010.

There are two core types of stuttering:

  • Developmental stuttering: this type is more common and generally occurs in children, whose speech and language development are unable to keep up with their verbal demands. 
  • Neurogenic stuttering: this form occurs from brain injury, things like a stroke, head trauma, or other brain injuries. Clear, fluent speech is difficult because the brain is unable to artfully coordinate the different brain regions that contribute to communication.

Is stuttering common in children? Does stuttering only affect children?

Stuttering may be more common in children, but it affects people at all ages and stages of life. 

As language and communication are critical components of early childhood development, stuttering most commonly occurs in children between the ages of 2 and 6.

When do I need to obtain a diagnosis or consider professional help for stuttering? How do I know if my child needs speech therapy?

Here are some helpful criteria to consider when you should see a speech-language therapist about your child’s stuttering:

  • You’ve noticed stuttering has continued for at least 6+ months
  • Stuttering is observed more often
  • You notice your child tenses up or struggles when communicating
  • Your child tells you that it’s too hard to talk or say the right words
  • You have a family history of stuttering

Your pediatrician may recognize a lack of progress toward developmental milestones, but won’t specialize in identifying these nuisances related to stuttering, so it’s critical for your child to be examined by a speech-language pathologist. Our team takes pride in expertly identifying, measuring, and evaluating our client’s speech and language.

Why am I developing a stutter as an adult?

Developing a new stutter as an adult, after no childhood history of stuttering, is extremely rare and might be neurogenic stuttering. It is recommended to speak with your medical doctor to determine any appropriate intervention or diagnosis, who will likely refer you for a speech therapy consultation.

Other instances of stuttering as an adult may be caused by side effects of prescribed medications, severe emotional distress, or other unknown causes.

What if stuttering is worst when stressed? Why do I stutter when I’m nervous?

If you’re wondering how to overcome stuttering when nervous, it’s important to relax, try and remove any pressure or anxiety you’re experiencing, and breathe deeply.

Can stress cause stuttering? Stressful situations, especially those where your anxiety may be high, can make your stuttering worse and stifle the muscle movements your body needs to make in order to speak clearly.

There is a significant connection between stress, nervousness, and anxiety when it comes to stuttering. The Stuttering Foundation has resources available on this subject, including a virtual learning webinar on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to provide a “mindfulness-based approach which aims to increase individuals’ psychological flexibility”. The program is recommended for children, teenagers, and adults who stutter.

Is stuttering a sign of anxiety?

Stuttering can impact every area of your life, whether you expect it or not. If you’re often impacted by the difficulty of clearly articulating what you know you’re trying to say, you may be asking yourself: why do I stutter in public? Why do I stutter during presentations?

Trepidation, anxiousness, a feeling of nervousness, or fear of embarrassment may impede speech function and worsen your stuttering. Stuttering is not necessarily a sign of anxiety, but anxiety may make your stuttering more severe.

If you have stuttering and must give a speech or presentation in front of a class or an important group of people, speaking clearly may prove more difficult for you. 

Unfortunately, stuttering comes with some drawbacks: people with stuttering may have difficulty sustaining meaningful relationships with others, pursuing job opportunities, and other detrimental effects. The silver lining? A normal, happy, fulfilling life can be obtained with new confidence and great speech! 

If I stutter as a child, can stuttering continue as an adult? Does stuttering stop on its own?

It’s said that approximately 75 percent of children will fully recover from stuttering, and most children outgrow stuttering on their own. 

That being said, for the remaining 25 percent, stuttering is a lifelong disorder that presents a frustrating barrier to clear, effective communication. Stuttering can be improved through careful intervention, especially improving confidence in everyday situations and interpersonal relationships.

How do I stop stuttering? Can stuttering be cured?

There is no cure available for stuttering, but numerous treatments are able to reduce the symptoms of stuttering and improve speech fluency.

Relaxing, speaking slowly, breathing carefully, and gradually introducing words and difficult phrases are all techniques used in speech therapy for younger children.

Check out our easy-to-follow tips for more on how to begin to stop stuttering on your own.

With older children and adults who stutter, speech therapy will manage stuttering and improve confidence in situations where fear or anxiety may influence speech in social situations.

The National Institutes of Health recommends that children seeking speech therapy do so in a relaxed home environment where the child is most comfortable to speak. Virtual speech therapy is the perfect model for your child to eliminate any anxiety that can worsen stuttering. Book an introductory call with our experts and experience profound solutions to improve stuttering today!

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