The Struggle of Stuttering
Stuttering is a speaking disorder in which you have trouble completing words or sentences without repeating words or parts of words. In some, it is evident early on when they start speaking. For others, they develop it after a specific traumatic event or accident. Stuttering may be more pronounced when someone is simply under stress or when they are nervous. You may be less likely to stutter when around those whom you feel relaxed with or when you are in a crowd and the spotlight is not on you. In most cases, the loved ones of someone who stutters will get used to it to the point that they won’t even notice that the person stutters. However, those who stutter may still find it frustrating. Thankfully, there are some speech therapy activities available to help those who are extremely frustrated. We have also given some advice on how to deal with those close to you that are struggling.
While many would jump to the conclusion that there are drugs and medicine to help stop stuttering, the truth is, there really aren’t. Specialists are working towards creating a drug to do so, but until then, there are only exercises and ways to learn how to control it. There are quite a few speech therapy activities that will help to reduce stuttering or can even get rid of it completely.
Activities and Advice
Below are some speech therapy materials, speech therapy resources, and language tips based on correct speech pathology materials, along with doctrine and views from doctors in the field.
1. Discovering Your Vocal Chords
It is important to understand the functional mechanics of speech. Take a relaxed breath, close your lips and hum: mmmmmm
Feel your vocal chords vibrate. Put three fingers on your Adam’s apple and feel your vocal chords vibrating. While continuing to hum, open your lips: aaaaaaa
Feel your vocal chords. This is how they feel when your speech is relaxed. This is the easy voice you want to use in all of the following exercises.
2. Relaxing The Stutter
This exercise helps you recognize what you are doing internally when you stutter, and then it teaches you how to soften and help heal your stutter.
Begin by simply speaking. As soon as you notice a word that you stuttered on, stop and think about what your body did when you began to stutter. Hold your fingers on your Adam’s apple while speaking to feel how your vocal chords tensed up when you began to stutter. Stop speaking in the middle of a word that you are stuttering on, and notice what your body is doing. Reduce all tension by 50%, and say the word again using your easy voice. Keep repeating the word. If you still find it hard to say without stuttering sometimes, then reduce the tension in your neck and vocal chords by another 25%. You could even record yourself speaking to help hear where you went wrong. Make a list of the words that you stuttered on and practice them over and over again.
3. Vocal Chord Exercise
Practice saying the following words with 100% tension. Relax, and then practice saying them with 50% tension:
Do the exercise again with words you have stuttered on recently.
4. Slow Stretched Speech
For this exercise, take a one syllable word, such as Ma. Using your easy, fluid voice, you will be stretching the entire word out, but start by saying the beginning of the word very softly and quietly, then move into the middle of the world and get louder, and finally say the end of the word very softly and quietly. Imagine that the quiet part of the word is in lowercase and the loud part of the word is in uppercase. So Ma would look like this: mmmMAAaaa. Here are some other words that you can use to practice as well:
• May: mmmMAAaayy
• Loud: lllLOOUUuud
• Was: wwwwWAAaass
• Nice: nnnNIIIcce
Then practice saying the word out loud, then getting quieter, and then getting louder again. Like this:
• That: THHHhhaaAAT
• Year: YYyyeeaaAARR
• Job: JJjjooOOB
• Rug: RRruuUGG
5. Say Phrases Using Your Easy Voice
Use the phrase, “Go outside” and alternate by saying one half of each syllable soft and the other half of the syllable loud. Try the other words below:
• Go outside: goOOouUUTssiiIIDE
• Up and down: uuUUPaaAANDdooOWN
• Easy there: eeaaAASYthhEERE
Once you can do this with phrases smoothly, move on to sentences. However, keep the volume the same and don’t elongate the words. Read paragraphs in this manner, and remember to keep your vocal chords relaxed. Find a printable passage you like, print it out, and carry it along with you to read aloud whenever you have the chance.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
In a comfortable environment, speak a lot. This could be by yourself while paying attention to the functional mechanics of how you speak. You could also talk to a close friend, kids, or Google Voice to help practice simple talking. Although talking a lot might be overwhelming, it is helpful to talk more so you get used to speaking for longer periods of time.
7. Do What You Need to Do to Be Comfortable
If you find that you can speak better without looking directly at someone, then look at your phone or focus on something else while talking. Try any of the ideas that comes to you with which you are comfortable.
8. Don’t Let it Stress You Out
You are not the first person to stutter, and you won’t be the last. Remember that you are not the only person with this language problem. Some of the greatest leaders struggled with stuttering. King George VI stuttered, and he had to talk to thousands while being broadcast live over TV and radio. Winston Churchill, prime minister of Britain, stuttered, and delivered numerous speeches that got Britain through World War II. Rowan Atkinson, Emily Blunt, James Earl Jones, and Hugh Grant are just a few of many that have problems with stuttering. They learned how to gain a solid control over their speech and made it a part of their personality and character, and you can do the same! Keep it lighthearted, laugh about it, and if someone can’t understand what you’re saying or gives you a hard time, you can always ask this simple question: Did I stutter?
9. For Parents and Adults
If your child stutters, be patient with them and don’t be negative or make a big deal about it. Some toddlers and older children are over their stutter by the time they are finished preschool. So deal with it as you would any other issue your child may have. This could include helping your child say the word or phrase fluently and praising them when they do speak it without stuttering. If a child has problems with both stuttering and articulation, then focus on the stuttering first.
Adults should remember to be patient with children and toddlers in their preschool or those of friends and family. They shouldn’t try to finish children’s sentences. Children shouldn’t feel rushed to get a word in; this might just make them stutter even more. Make it a habit that everyone waits their turn to speak. Be honest if your child asks you about his or her speech, but also let them know that they can still be understood perfectly even when they do stutter. Encouragement is key!
10. Be The Change You Seek
One of the ideas you can use to help kids is to initiate a conversation between you and your child. You can do this by speaking in a relaxed manner, quietly and slowly, using articulation and animation (this could also be in the form of games). Your child will naturally want to follow suit. There are plenty of downloadable games and printable materials that can help both children and adults gain control of their stutter. But overall, if a person who has speech problems sits around gloomy, not wanting to fix their problem, of course they are going to be miserable! They have to want to seek change and seek help to work towards a solution.
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