In most cases a stammer (also known as a stutter) is not acquired but developmental, adults presenting with a stammer usually have had it since childhood.
With a stammer, there is disruption to the fluency of our speech. This interference can be in the form of long pauses in the middle of a sentence, repetition of the first part of a word (wh-wh-where), interjections of smaller sounds/words (‘um’ or ‘eh’) or holding a single sound for a long time whaaaaaat).
Symptoms Of Stutters
Stammering often includes repetitions of words or parts of words, as well as prolongations of speech sounds. These disfluencies occur more often in persons who stammer than they do in the general population. Some people who stammer appear very tense or “out of breath” when talking. Speech may become completely stopped or blocked. Blocked is when the mouth is positioned to say a sound, sometimes for several seconds, with little or no sound forthcoming. After some effort, the person may complete the word. Interjections such as “um” or “like” can occur, as well, particularly when they contain repeated (“u- um- um”) or prolonged (“uuuum”) speech sounds or when they are used intentionally to delay the initiation of a word the speaker expects to “get stuck on.”
Treatment Of Stutters
The long term goals of stammering therapy are continued reduction of the impact of stammering on the client’s life, continued follow-up and structured network of support for clients and maintain emphasis on chosen therapy, empowerment and acceptance. Therapy for stammering is usually offered on an individual or a group basis for a pre-defined period of time. At an initial appointment or assessment, the therapist will discuss your individual needs with you. An individually tailored treatment plan will be devised with you and will include many of the approaches and techniques below.
The main forms of treatment offered are as follows:
Block modification: The aim is not for total fluency but to help the client stammer more easily. Involves work on attitude change as well as communication behaviour.
Avoidance reduction therapy: The person who stammers is taught to acknowledge that they stammer and approach speaking situations instead of avoiding them (this can include techniques such as voluntary stammering)
Speak More Fluently: Speak More Fluently (Fluency-modification techniques)
Fluency-modification techniques such as slowed speech/ prolonged speech aim to replace stammered speech with fluent speech in the clinic setting, and the client is then helped to carry over the fluency techniques into outside situations.
Psychological Approaches: Personal Construct Therapy (PCT)
Helps the client and therapist understand the psychological effects that stammering has upon the client’s life. Through careful self-exploration and experimentation, the client works to increase speaking confidence and develop a more positive attitude towards their communication.
Our Expertise Of Stutters
Our Speech and Language Therapists are very aware how difficult it is to live with a stammer and how hard it can be to even go to a clinic and talk to a professional about it. We know that stammering can be very debilitating and can really affect the choices a person makes in their life. Through support, listening, counselling and working together to challenge some of the stammering associated anxieties, it is possible to make a change and liberate yourself from the fears that may have held you back.
We will assess, diagnose and provide treatment for stammering. All of Spectrum Health’s Paediatric Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy and have ample experience working with adults who stammer.