What is a Stutter?
A stutter – also referred to as a stammer – is a speech disorder that relates to significant and frequent challenges with the regular flow and fluency of speech. Individuals who struggle with stuttering know the words they want to say and the information they want to convey, but they have difficulty clearly saying it. In some cases, an individual with a stutter may prolong or repeat a word, a syllable, or a single vowel or consonant sound. In other cases, the individual may exhibit frequent or prolonged pauses, often because they have encountered a word or sound that is especially difficult for them to produce.
It is common for young children to stutter, and stuttering in children is considered a normal part of developing speech and language skills. Many children will exhibit a stutter because their speech and language abilities haven’t progressed enough to keep up with the words they are wanting to say. In most cases, children will outgrow the stutter as their communication skills become stronger and more developed.
In some cases, a stutter becomes a chronic issue that continues into adulthood. When an adult struggles with a stutter, it can have a significant effect on their self-esteem and confidence when interacting with others. Both children and adults who are struggling to eliminate stutter would benefit from speech therapy with an experienced speech and language pathologist. Get started on the path to clearer speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Causes a Stutter?
Scientists are continuing to study the various underlying causes of stuttering in children and adults. In many cases, there is a combination of factors that causes a stutter in an individual. Some of the possible causes of stuttering are:
Differences or Abnormalities in Speech Motor Control – Differences in elements of speech motor control such as sensory and motor coordination, timing, and pacing of speech can contribute to a stutter.
Genetic Factors – Stuttering tends to run in families and research has shown that stuttering can be the result of inherited (genetic) differences.
Medical Conditions – Medical conditions such as a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other disorders of the brain can result in speech that is slow, unclear, and full of pauses or repeated sounds.
Sometimes, speech fluency is disrupted as a response to emotional distress. Children and adults who don’t typically speak with a stutter may experience dysfluency in their speech when they are feeling stressed, anxious, nervous or pressured. These types of situations can also result in someone who does stutter struggling to speak even more than usual. Speech therapy can help to improve confidence and communication skills for adults who stutter. Get started with speech therapy by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Stutter?
The signs and symptoms of a stutter can include:
- Difficulty Beginning a Sound, Word, Phrase, or Sentence
- Frequent Pauses of Silent Syllables
- Prolonging a Word or Letter Sounds Within a Word
- Frequent Repetition of Sounds, Syllables, or Words
- Short Periods of Silence for Specific Words or Syllables or Pauses in the Middle of a Word
- Addition of Extra Words or Sounds (such as “um” or “ah”)
- Extra Tension, Tightness, or Facial Movements to Produce a Word
- Anxiety Related to Speaking
- A Limited Ability to Communicate Effectively
In some cases, the above-mentioned speech difficulties of stuttering may be accompanied by:
- Rapid Eye Blinking
- Lip or Jaw Tremors
- Facial Tics and/or Head Jerks
- Clenched Fists
Stuttering can become worse when the individual is excited, tired, feeling stressed, anxious, or is feeling self-conscious, rushed, or pressured. Situations such as talking in front of a group or speaking on the phone can be especially difficult for individuals who struggle with a stutter. However, the majority of people who stutter can speak without stuttering when they are talking to themselves as well as when they sing or speak in unison with another person.
Does Stuttering get Worse with Age in Adults?
Age is one of the strongest risk factors when it comes to stuttering and comes with several important implications. While stutter disorders can begin within a wide range of ages, research has shown that in the majority of cases, a stutter emerges before the child is school-aged.
Age is a factor in stuttering because while it is very normal and common to stutter while they are developing their speech and language abilities when the problem persists beyond early childhood and into adulthood, it can be more difficult to eliminate the stutter. With advancing age also comes a higher likelihood of developing neurological conditions that can disrupt the flow of speech. In some cases, stuttering is caused by poor word recall, memory problems, and other challenges that can come with getting older.
The other side of this is that in some cases, advancing age can actually help to reduce instances of stuttering. As we grow older, it is common for us to become less concerned with how we appear to others, being judged, or feeling ashamed for our differences. Lower anxiety and self-consciousness can reduce stuttering because the individual actually stops trying to control it so intensely.
Can you Cure Stuttering as an Adult? How do Adults get Rid of Stuttering?
While it is possible to eliminate a stutter in an adult, it takes a highly skilled speech and language pathologist as well as commitment and determination from the individual. Treatment through speech therapy won’t always eliminate a stutter, but it will help to teach skills to help the individual lessen their instances of stuttering.
Does Stuttering Go Away with Therapy? How Does Speech Therapy Help with an Adult Stutter?
Speech therapy for stuttering focuses on teaching the individual to slow the pace of their speech, as well as bring awareness to the triggers or causes of the stutter. Your speech therapist will encourage you to practice speaking slowly and deliberately, working up to a more normal pace of speech over time.
Speech therapy for a stutter begins with a thorough evaluation by a qualified speech and language pathologist. From there, your therapist will design a customized treatment plan to help improve the clarity and fluency of your speech. Treatment varies between individuals due to varying needs, challenges, learning styles, and communication goals.
Speech therapy may not eliminate all stuttering, but it will provide skills that help to:
- Improve Fluency of Speech
- Develop Effective Communication Skills
- Encourage the Individual to Fully Participate in Academic, Professional, and Social Activities
Stuttering treatment for older children and adults will focus on managing and reducing instances of stuttering. Your therapist will help you to reduce stress and tension and encourage you to speak more freely in school, at work, and in different social settings. Your speech therapist will also help you to approach speaking situations that make you feel worried or anxious. This might include speaking on the phone or ordering food at a restaurant. Speech therapists are experts when it comes to helping people to communicate effectively and navigate the world with confidence. Don’t wait – get started with Great Speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!