According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, stuttering is a speech disorder that involves frequent disturbances in the typical flow of speech. Individuals who stutter know what they would like to say, but have difficulty verbally expressing it.
Treatment is approached by a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist who aims to improve verbal communication. Techniques are referred to as “behavioral” in that they address skills or behaviors to limit dysfluencies. For example, speaking in a slower rate with less tension. However, therapy goes far beyond the treatment room. At home, loved ones can minimize dysfluencies by promoting fluency in the following ways:
- Limit interruptions- Allow an individual to complete their thought, no matter how many dysfluent episodes may occur. While (we) may feel that assisting the individual who is having a difficult time is the right thing to do, it may actually exacerbates their emotions.
- Schedule- Arrange a schedule that allows ample time between activities in order to limit rushing in the home. Rushing tends to create feelings of anxiety and an increased urgency to speak in a fast rate.
- Limit Competition- Designate a time of the day where each family member takes turns speaking. This will give everyone an opportunity to speak and also provide the individual who is dysfluent an opportunity to utilize strategies in a familiar environment.
- Talk About Emotions- Human emotion such as fear, excitement, or frustrations can result in dyslfuencies. Be sure to show the individual who stutters that you’re aware of their emotions and why they’re feeling that way. This will limit communicating while feeling these emotions.
Some stuttering resources are:
The Stuttering Foundation http://www.stutteringhelp.org/
National Stuttering Foundation http://www.westutter.org/
Lisamarie Ricigliano, M.S., CF-SLP, TSSLD