How speech therapy helps improve stuttering

Regularly, speech therapy purposes to rectify stuttering by amending the person’s emotions, speech behaviours and general outlook on communication in general, particularly talking. Stuttering is a common invention amongst children. With the introduction of the NDIS many children are able to engage in therapy to assist with this issue. The amount of time an individual is engaged in therapy is different for each individual and generally depends on the goals for therapy. Common goals for speech therapy include gaining a greater understanding about stuttering, decreasing stuttering frequency, reducing the pressure and tension during moments of stuttering, developing skills to cutback on the tendency to avoid certain situations or words seen to trigger or exacerbate stuttering, or improving other communication skills such as phrasing, eye contact or facial expressions. Speech therapist may also work with the person to learn breathing techniques to assist them to relax when becoming anxious about speaking.

What is stuttering?

When we speak to each other, the outflow of our speech is referred to as fluency. In stuttering disorders, this flow of speech is disrupted, usually by iterations of postures and movements of speech. Stuttering manifests in different ways, can vary greatly between individuals, and there are different forms of stuttering. People who stutter commonly exhibit symptoms of being reluctant when speaking, as if becoming stuck on the next word; repeating syllables, sounds or words in quick succession; or perpetuating sounds, making words longer.

What causes stuttering?

While it is scientifically thought that people who suffer have a deficit in their brain that hinders speech production, the exact causative mechanism or specific cause is unknown. However, there is strong evidence that genetics plays a significant role, as stuttering is frequently seen to run in families.

What effects can stuttering have?

While stuttering affects people differently, it is not uncommon for people with the condition to have increased risk of bullying from their peers (particularly children), which can have negative effects on their self-esteem and confidence. Depending on the severity of stuttering, it may also impact on their performance at school or work, and how they engage with others and form relationships. As having sound communication skills is important in interpersonal engagement, early intervention is vital as soon as an individual begins to show signs of stuttering.

Can the stuttering go away on its own?

While many sufferers of stuttering developed the condition in childhood, stuttering can occur at any age. Some people can recover without any treatment or intervention, as the condition seems to resolve itself naturally. However, there is no way to predict if or when this may occur, and while some children may “grow out of it”, others will not.

What therapy involves?

Similar to most therapies, speech therapy involves catering a therapy plan to the person’s unique needs, goals and resources. Usually, the primary step is for the therapist to gain a good background of the person’s medical, personal and family history. For young children, parents or the primary caregiver are frequently involved in therapy to reinforce what is learnt in treatment into the child’s daily habits and routines. Therapy usually occurs in speech therapy clinics however some services are mobile and can provide therapy in a person’s home or other location in the community (e.g. school or workplace). There are no set rules about the length of therapy; it can vary widely from individual to individual. Some people with mild symptoms may only need therapy for a few months, while others may continue to see a therapist over a period of years.