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Stuttering or Fluency Disorder

Stuttering or stammering refers to a breakdown in the fluency of our speech. This fluency disorder may be due to an underlying disease or other factors that mainly include family history, psychological or emotional or just generally when a child is learning how to speak. Sometimes children will gradually overcome their stutter with age while in some cases it may persist. Stuttering can create havoc on self-esteem, confidence, the ability to socialize and impede us from living our personal and professional lives to the fullest.

A large number of neurological conditions can cause these conditions, in my experience as a speech therapist the most common conditions are Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) etc. Dealing with a condition like a stroke or other neurogenic condition is difficult as is, but the effects are exacerbated with the frustration of unintelligible speech, slurred nature of speech, difficulty saying the right sounds, altered speech or voice quality etc.

Stuttering normally manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Trouble with initiating or starting a word or sentence
  • Repeating certain sounds, syllables or words
  • Stretching out or prolonging parts of a word or the whole word
  • Adding interjections like “us” or “um” excessively
  • Stopping or pausing between or within a word, resulting in unnatural silences

Sometime stuttering may be accompanied by:

  • Being excessively nervous or anxious about talking
  • Avoiding talking
  • Clenching fists or jaws
  • Involuntary tics or tremors in face or jaw
  • Head jerks while speaking

Here is what I’ve heard some of my patient’s say:

  • “I hate going out” 
  • “Nobody even bothers asking me things anymore”
  • “I ask my mom to say things for me”
  • “I don’t know how to speak”
  • “I have a disease”
  • “Nobody takes me seriously”
  • “People just can’t stop laughing at me”
  • “I’m not normal” 

Helping You Walk Again

Stuttering is very treatable if one is motivated to put in the time and work that treatment entails. There isn’t a single standard program to fix an individual’s stutter, but normally involves a combination of recognizing and altering negative thought and anxious feelings, boosting self-confidence and learning strategies to help us recognize and correct fluency breakdowns.

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