Speech therapy for stutter

Stuttering

Talking is something we often take for granted – especially those of us who love to chat! But talking to people can be hard when you stutter. You might get stuck on certain words, or find yourself repeating or prolonging sounds and unable to speak fluidly.

Stuttering is actually a pretty common problem that can affect toddlers, teens, and can even develop later in life. King George VI famously spoke with a stutter, which made him reluctant to appear in public or give speeches where his stuttering might be on display. (Good thing he had a massive Palace to live in!)

Kids who stutter can get frustrated, be left out of peer groups, and find it hard to get help in class. School can be challenging enough, let alone when your child can’t get the words out!

If your child has a stutter, or if you stutter yourself, speech pathologists can help. Let’s find out how.

I can’t talk without stuttering! Why?

Stuttering is a speech disorder characterised by repeating sounds, hesitating to make new sounds, or prolonging words. Many children stutter during their development when they are starting to use sentences.

Usually, the situation sorts itself out within 6 months. But in children with ongoing stuttering, the extra pressure to speak better can make the problem worse.

Most forms of stuttering fall within these broad categories:

Developmental stuttering. This is the most common type that occurs in children as their speech and language processes are developing.

Neurogenic stuttering. This type occurs when the brain doesn’t communicate properly with the nerves and muscles needed for speaking and typically only occurs after some sort of injury or disease of the brain (i.e. stroke, brain injury).

Psychogenic stuttering. This is related to the area of the brain that affects thought and reasoning. It’s most often seen in people with mental illness or those under extreme mental stress.

Why do some people stutter while others don’t?

Stuttering usually starts in children between 2 and 6 years old (but it can develop later in life too). It’s a complex condition involving psychology and physiology, so it doesn’t have a single cause.

That being said, there are some factors that are linked to stuttering. These include:

  • Genetics – stuttering tends to run in families
  • Differences in how the brain works during speech
  • Gender – boys are more likely to stutter than girls
  • Mood and temperament – anxiety, frustration, excitement, and stress can all make stuttering worse

If left untreated, a child with a stutter might have learning and socialising difficulties. Self-esteem and confidence can drop when your child realises they’re ‘not like other kids’.

Not only does this mean kids with a stutter can fall behind in school, but social isolation, bullying, and anxiety can follow, which is absolutely heartbreaking!

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are well researched therapy techniques that can help stuttering kids and adults speak with clarity.

Speech therapy techniques for stuttering

At SpeechEase, we look at the following factors when assessing a person who stutters:

  • The characteristics of the stutter – do they prolong sounds, repeat sounds/words, have long pauses in their sentences or use physical movement when speaking?
  • How often the stuttering happens
  • Which kinds of situations stuttering happen in
  • How the person tries to ‘fix’ their speech (Do they stop talking? Try to start over?)
  • The impact stuttering is having on you or your child’s socialisation
  • If stuttering is making it harder for learning at school or doing tasks at work
  • The level of detail they use to articulate their thoughts using speech

This kind of information helps us accurately diagnose what’s going on and prescribe a therapy plan that is best suited to help them.

Treatment often involves direct strategies that involve working on how a person speaks using behaviour modification strategies and speech restructuring techniques such as smooth speech or syllable timed speech.

It might also include indirect strategies that aim to find ways of making it easier for fluent speech. This might include slowing down your own speech, asking fewer questions, and gaining awareness of when stress might be impacting the person’s ability to speak fluently.

What to do next

Do you speak with a stutter? Or do you have a child that’s struggling a bit?

At SpeechEase, we help kids and adults of all ages manage their stuttering. This helps build confidence in school, at work, and social occasions too.

Give one of our friendly speech therapists a call on 0423 334 144 to find out how we can help.

Book an Appointment