What are some effective treatments for stuttering?

Magnetic letters (Photo by Gaetan Lee BB-CY)

Magnetic letters (Photo by Gaetan Lee CC-BY)

Both children and adults can benefit from individualized therapies for stuttering. Children can be helped most effectively because their speech patterns are just being formed. However, treatments can help adults as well. It may take a bit more work because habitual patterns are already ingrained, but hard work can often pay off with positive changes.

Before all else, if you have a child who stutters, don’t ignore it. Individuals who grew up as stutterers often express they felt isolated and helpless as children. Experts now encourage parents to acknowledge their child’s stuttering and to seek help at an early age. This gives the child a sense of  support and the advantage of learning to  reverse certain speech patterns before they become ingrained.  And if you are an adult who continues to stutter, remember that change can come at any age.

Take a look at some of the therapies outlined below.

Apple iPhone. This is the latest device found to be beneficial in stuttering therapy! The Hollins Communication Research Institute has used the Iphone in conjunction with speech therapy to assist in stuttering treatment. By programming the IPhone with a voice-monitoring system that evaluates and scores speech behaviors taught during therapy, individuals can practice their speech in real-life situations and receive immediate feedback. Participants in the clinical trials have reacted positively to using the device for practice outside of the clinical setting.

Speech restructuring
. This type of speech therapy involves learning to coordinate the elements  involved in speech, such as mouth muscle movements and breathing. Children can benefit greatly from speech restructuring since they have not developed habitual speaking patterns. Adults will need a bit more effort since they are effectively learning to speak all over again. However, this type of speech therapy can be quite productive, even at an older age.

Electronic Aids. Ear devices which allow the user to hear their own voice can help stutterers to practice control over their own speech. The auditory feedback has been shown to produce temporary results in some individuals. Long-term results remain unknown. The SpeechEasy is one such device.

Cognitive therapy. Many individuals who stutter display a certain level of social anxiety or avoidance behavior. Research has shown cognitive therapy to have positive results in reducing anxiety among stutterers. While no influence on speech fluency was noted, the reduction in social anxiety is noteworthy.

Stuttering Support Groups. While this is not a treatment, the value of peer support cannot be ignored! Links to support groups and internet discussion forums can be found on the National Stuttering Association website.

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