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Understanding Fluency Shaping Techniques in Speech Therapy

Fluency shaping is a method of speech therapy treatment that aims to improve the speech of those who struggle with stuttering. While not all cases of stuttering are curable, many people see significant improvements in their speech when using fluency shaping for stuttering treatment.

What is Fluency Shaping?

Fluency shaping does not refer to a single technique or method but a series of techniques focusing on improving speech fluency. Speech fluency is defined as the ease with which an individual is able to produce sounds, syllables, words, phrases, and sentences in a smooth and fluid manner. Speech fluency depends on a variety of factors, including the rate of speech and how much effort is required to produce a particular sentence or phrase.

When first introduced, the fluency shaping approach had no focus on the emotional element of struggling with stuttering and how this element can affect speech. This has since changed, due in part to studies showing that fluency shaping therapy is most effective when combined with other approaches.

If you or someone close to you struggle to communicate due to stuttering, getting the help you need is crucial. A qualified speech therapist can help improve speech fluency and boost confidence. Schedule your free introductory call today!

What Are Fluency Shaping Goals?

The main goal of fluency-shaping speech therapy is to replace dysfluent speech with fluent, uninterrupted speech. Fluency shaping strategies involve teaching an individual who stutters new speech patterns to improve their speech fluency.

What Are the Main Techniques Used in Fluency Shaping?

A wide variety of fluency-shaping techniques are practiced in speech therapy. The main methods that are often used include:

Breath Management – Breath management for speech fluency can be approached in a variety of ways. In most cases, the goal of breath management is to address poor breathing techniques that have been developed over time. These poor breathing patterns result from trying to block the stuttering or repetitions for an extended period. In some cases, there may be instances of gulping for air or taking very shallow, quick breaths.

Slowed, Stretched Speech – This is sometimes referred to as the “stretched syllable technique,” and it focuses on producing prolonged and deliberate speech. This typically means speaking no more than 40 to 60 syllables each minute. To achieve this, words are broken down into syllables, and each syllable is stretched out when spoken to last two full seconds. Because this is an unnatural pattern of speech, it is quite difficult. However, once this has been mastered, speech rates can be increased, with the goal of reaching 150 syllables per minute, which is the standard rate for typical fluency.

Some of the other fluency-shaping techniques used in speech therapy for stuttering include:

  • Prolonging Vowel Sounds
  • Smoothing the Movements of the Tongue, Jaw, and Lips
  • Practicing Light Contact When Producing Consonant Sounds
  • Practicing Easy Phrase Initiation

Speech pathologists are trained professionals who can help you or your loved one communicate confidently. The first step to connecting to one of our specialized virtual speech therapists is to book a free introductory call today!

How Effective is Fluency Shaping?

Fluency shaping has been shown to help improve stuttering for some individuals and is believed to be more effective than other forms of speech therapy alone. While there is often some risk of stuttering regression, many continue to see improvement in their speech fluency as time passes. Some individuals who use fluency shaping techniques to reduce stuttering instances report that their speech patterns continue to feel unnatural and effortful.

Stuttering Modification vs. Fluency Shaping

These are two distinct approaches to speech therapy for stuttering. Generally, stuttering modification focuses on increasing awareness of the individual’s stuttered speech. This method also often involves efforts to reduce physical and emotional tension and modify instances of actual stuttering. Stuttering modification aims to help individuals speak and subsequently stutter in a more relaxed way. This can be highly beneficial in assisting individuals to become less sensitive to their stuttering and reduce or eliminate any negative feelings or reactions connected to it. This type of therapy has been shown to help an individual feel more confident and accepted even when they stutter.

Stuttering modification differs significantly from fluency-shaping strategies, as fluency-shaping strategies target articulation, voice production, and the rate of speech with the goal of improving fluency disorders and developing more fluent speech.

Why Focus on Fluency Shaping?

One of the main differences between fluency shaping and other speech therapy techniques is that it significantly improves fluency, which in turn produces better, clearer speech. When a more fluent speech pattern is achieved, negative reactions significantly decrease, and confidence and self-esteem are boosted. As confidence builds, fluency often improves due to the newfound ability to be an effective and self-assured speaker.

Does Fluency Shaping Work on its Own?

Fluency shaping techniques are best used when working with a speech therapist who is experienced and knowledgeable about fluency disorders and effective treatments. Speech therapy for stuttering begins with a thorough evaluation to identify each individual’s specific communication challenges and goals.
The most successful treatment plans for stuttering involve both fluency shaping and stuttering modification techniques. Both treatment methods can be delivered simultaneously and typically offer the best outcome. When both approaches are applied, speech therapy leads to improved fluency skills, more confidence, less emotional distress relating to stuttering, and stronger communication skills in general. Speech therapy for stuttering helps the individual to have more overall control of their speech.

The role of fluency shaping in speech therapy for stuttering is to provide improvements for many individuals who have yet to be successful with other methods. While it is crucial that fluency shaping is paired with other approaches to stuttering, it is one of the most effective techniques for improving speech fluency and overall communication skills.

Are you concerned about stuttering? It’s essential to complete a full assessment to discover what’s going on so you can pursue the most effective form of treatment. Schedule a free introductory call with Great Speech to go over the difficulties you are facing and the best route to overcoming them.