Of all speech pathology issues, stuttering is one of the most common and most overlooked. People who have a stutter often just deal with it, try to get past it, or ignore it, depending on the severity. However, stuttering can present some serious problems with communication, especially when communicating with new people or in professional settings.
For some people, stuttering only affects their communication during a specific activity, such as talking on the phone or addressing a large group of people. Oftentimes, a stutter will be affected or exacerbated by nervousness or anxiety. If a situation is particularly stressful, the person who suffers from stuttering often finds him or herself with added stress due to a communication breakdown. He or she can, at this point, get very frustrated, feeling as though his or her body is acting against him or her.
Fortunately, stuttering can be treated with speech pathology and patience. If someone you work with or care for suffers from a stutter, you can help them to communicate by making them feel more relaxed and by not pushing them or pressuring them when they’re trying to speak. Read on for more information on stuttering symptoms, treatments, and how to better communicate with someone who stutters.
Stuttering is an interruption in the fluency and fluidity of speech. It is often accompanied by the repetition of a consonant sound, long pauses, and/or elongated vowel or soft consonant sounds in speech. If someone suffers from stuttering, it may manifest in different ways. For example, when someone with a stutter hits a blockage in their speech, they may say, “ummmm” for a long time or simply stop, as if frozen, until they can get the words out.
Stuttering, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, may manifest in one or more of these forms:
- Repeated consonant sounds, especially at the beginning of a sentence, such as, “C-c-c-an I help you?”
- Prolonged sounds, such as, “Sssssssarah is coming,” or, “Aaaaaand I will be there.”
- Breaks in fluency, like, “I’ll see you…um…yeah…you know…at about seven.”
It can be difficult, sometimes, to communicate effectively with someone who suffers from breaks in fluency like this without insulting their intelligence.
How Is Stuttering Treated?
Most treatments for stuttering are centered on behavioral modification and exercises. Sometimes a person will not stutter unless he or she is nervous, in which case, they’ll try to speak quickly and fluidly, then trip over their words, and get stuck. Speech pathologists work with stuttering clients on slowing down their speech and relaxing into a more fluid speech pattern.
Often, to accomplish this, speech pathologists will begin by having the person focus on slow, smooth speech in short phrases and sentences. As they practice and become comfortable with this, their pathologist will challenge them to speak a bit faster and in longer sentences. Prolonged treatment like this proves to be very effective in most cases
How Can You Better Communicate with Someone Who Stutters
Be patient when speaking. Don’t try to finish their sentences for them when they get stuck. Try to let them know that they don’t need to be nervous or feel stressed around you. If they can relax, their communication will almost always become more fluent and fluid.
Keep in mind, though, that everyone is different. If your method of trying to put someone at ease doesn’t seem to be helping, just ask them if there’s anything you can do that will make communication easier or more comfortable for them. More often than not, they’ll appreciate that you’re making the effort, and communication will become a lot easier.
If you have questions about speech pathology for public speaking or stuttering contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. We‘ll provide you with a straightforward, efficient and very effective treatment plan targeted to your concerns.
Treating Stuttering in Adults – www.asha.org