A 3-Step Super-Easy Process for Pushing Through a Stuttering Wall

How many times have you had to say something, only to find that when you attempt to utter the words, your mouth completely fails you?

It happens to the best of us; fluent speakers included.

Why does it happen?

Your mind’s essentially tripping you up. We can all think much faster than we could possibly speak. Minds race with a gazillion thoughts flowing through them at any one time. When you’re speaking, you’re forcing your mind to cancel out all the other ideas and thoughts it’s processing to exert your focus on the one thing you need to say. In effect, when you speak you’re signalling to your brain to slow down.

Meditation is probably the most effective way to calm your mind, but when you hit a brick wall and can’t push past a stuttering phrase or word, it’s hardly going to be the time to go meditate.

The fastest way to calm your mind

1) Stop

That’s the best thing you can do because otherwise, you’ll only heighten your anxiety. Stop trying to break the barrier, and take a moment to pause for reflection. The person or people you are speaking to will actually appreciate this because watching someone stutter isn’t exactly comfortable for the listener so don’t be ashamed to pause for reflection.

2) Distract your mind with a hand gesture

When you’re in the midst of a conversation and the stutter wall goes up, you’ve yourself to think about and the person you’re speaking with. You might find it helps to signal to the other person that what you’re doing is going to help you say what you’re trying to say.

A way of doing this that seems to be understood by most people is a simple hand gesture. The type of gesture you’d make to signal to someone to shut up.

Imagine your hand’s your mouth… bring your thumb to your index or middle finger and clamp them closed together to signal a mouth being closed. It’s only rude if you’re telling the other person to shut up. Not when you’re signalling that you’re going to shut up for a few seconds.

3) Inhale through your nose

How you breathe affects your focus. Mental health experts advise that when anyone is struggling with a stressful situation that they inhale through their nose and exhale through the mouth. It’s been proven to impact brain activity by positively affecting performance.

Then…

Say what you’ve got to say.

It’s a simple three step process, although like most techniques, it’s not guaranteed to work. What will though is the inhalation method you use. The important thing to remember when you hit a stuttering wall is that you pause for reflection. There’s no point struggling on as it’ll only get you into a tizzy.

• Stop trying so hard to fight it

• Engage with the person you’re speaking to using a hand gesture to buy yourself some time

• Breathe – in through the nose and out through the mouth.

It’s fascinating how the mind works, and in the cases of stuttering, usually when the wall goes up, the person affected has a tonne of stuff racing through their mind. So much so that it’s near impossible to bring your focus onto the one thing – which is to forget everything else and tell your brain you only need it to do one thing – move your mouth to say these words.

Overcoming any stuttering event will always boil down to silencing the mind of other thoughts irrelevant to what you’re trying to say.

Understanding the Cycle of Emotions Involved with Stuttering

When you’re lumbered with a stutter, it’s inevitable that you’re going to feel isolated, trapped, and like there’s no way out. The reason for this is science. No scientist or medical researcher has ever discovered the reason why people stutter. They’ve tried, oh my, they have tried.

They’ve studied the brain, conducted research groups and run numerous brain scans in an effort to identify some type of brain hiccup that could possibly be contributing to a person’s stutter, all to no avail.
There’s no explanation for it.

Yet there are plenty of proclaimed solutions, from hypnotherapy, to Neurolinguistics Programming, Fluency Shaping Techniques and Stuttering Modification. Some work for some people, while others try with all their might and continue to battle their internal demon of trying to speak fluently.

Try with all your might and you will not be able to if you don’t understand what’s really happening.

Fixing your speech, or at least improving it is a type of self-improvement. Like everything anyone can do to improve oneself, reading isn’t one of the things that will help. You can read all the books under the sun, join community discussion boards, self-help forums, local support groups and many other strategies, but without acting on the information you learn about, you’ll never experience change.

Chances are, for adult stutterers anyway, whatever you’ve read, listened to, or maybe even tried that hasn’t worked out is influencing your own disfluency. Your self-image is super important when you’re working to improve anything about yourself. You need to strip away the negativity, believe it’s possible to change and then take the steps to bring about positive change.

It doesn’t happen instantaneously, but with time, you will become a better speaker.

Control your emotions and you’ll control your stutter

Self-improvement isn’t going to be easy. You need to begin with the knowledge that it’s going to be uncomfortable at times, but it’s nothing life threatening. Coping strategies are the best place to start because if you can’t control your anxiety levels, you’ll never control your speech.

Anxiety isn’t a cause of a stutter. It’s merely a symptom.

John Harrison, author of Redefining Stuttering, described the emotional relationship best when he laid out the Stuttering Hexagon, representing the emotional conflicts that are at work when people stutter.

The stuttering hexagon is described as the six following characteristics…

1. Your beliefs

This is like the feelings you may have about not being worthy of being listened to. That when you speak, people tune out. You believe that others believe you’re less intelligent because of your inability to speak fluently.

2. Your perceptions

The worst perception you will have is most definitely that people are judging you. The truth of the matter – you’re the only one making the irrational judgements of yourself.

3. Your emotions

Whenever you feel at ease, you’ll be able to let words flow from your mouth effortlessly. When you feel bad about your speech, you’re going to find it increasing your anxiety levels and subsequently contribute to increased stuttering behaviours.

4. Your physical behaviours

People can tell a lot about a person through just their body language alone. You’ll make judgements about others when they speak to you, not based on the words they use, but rather how they say it. Tone, hand gestures, pitch level etc. It all goes towards influencing perception.

When you speak with a stutter, pay attention to the physical behaviours you can feel happening, like your vocal chords tightening, throat becoming dry due to intense stress, and even the tightening of your lips or tensing of your jaw muscles. Acknowledge those feelings and you’ll be able to recognise the causes of your own stuttering behaviours. Everyone has different symptoms.

5. Your intentions

To be able to speak confidently, you need to circle back to your beliefs about what you say being of importance. Make it your intention to be heard and understood. The intention is one of the most problematic of the hexagon that Harris describes because there’s an internal conflict between wanting to speak to be heard and understood, and not wanting to speak for the fear of embarrassment. There are two emotions at work, both conflicting with each other. One emotion triggers your pain response, and the other pleasure. Your emotions need to be aligned toward the pleasure emotion. That’s difficult because when you speak with new people, you’ll likely feel the pain emotion surface because of past experiences that resulted in you feeling hurt, like being bullied at school, laughed at and the butt of most jokes.

6. Other physiological components

When you hit a stumbling block, there’s often accompanying physiological components at play such as your heart racing, and palms becoming sweaty.

The six factors described by John Harrison are of significance to those with a stutter, because if you have one, you’ll know very well that every one of those six factors will surface when you speak with other people.

When it comes to mastering speech with precision, there’s no quick fix because you can’t address all six factors with any singular exercise.

Instead, it’s recommended you start with just one thing from the stuttering hexagon and work on that. Like speak with a clear intention. Or acknowledge the physiological things that happen when you stutter. The most difficult of them all, you’ll likely find will be changing your beliefs.

However, only by changing your belief from one of hopelessness to one of anything’s possible, you’ll finally be able to improve how you speak, reduce the amount of stuttering that happens when you do speak, and progress closer to the ultimate goal of fluent speech. Don’t expect it to be quick or easy though. It’ll take time, it’ll be challenging, but most importantly, it’ll be life-changing when you begin to work on the smaller pieces of contributing factors causing you to stutter.

Narrow your focus to one thing at a time, rather than the complexity of trying to cure a stutter. It’s been around since the Biblical times and there’s still no medical cure because there’s no actual known cause. That’s because it’s psychological and not physiological. The problem is in your mind and nothing to do with the brain. That means you can make that change just by shifting your frame of mind.

How To Get The Stutter Under Your Control

If you’re trying to reach 100% fluency, it’s not going to happen. It is all about baby steps. Walk before you run and all that.

There’s no denying that curing a stutter is impossible. You’ll never do it. You can only control it. That ability of stutter manageability is what you should be striving for because otherwise, you’re just giving yourself a hard time.

I mean, do you really want to let your speech dominate your life?

Of the millions of people affected with a stuttering disorder, they (mostly) do live happy lives. They manage to make friends, and maintain relationships. Granted, in the youth years it’s more difficult but as your social circle ages with you, so too does acceptance. Only that’s likely not going to work with yourself.

There’s a huge problem those with a stutter are challenged with, and that is self-acceptance. You may not be happy with how you speak, but it’s the hand you’ve been dealt. It doesn’t mean that things have to stay that way though.

Or does it?

For some that may be. For others, they manage to somehow push through and ultimately are able to control their speech in many a situation.

How to control a stutter

Self-help for your speech

The only person who can help you is you. People like me can assist you on your journey by giving pointers, advice, tips and techniques and perhaps even coaching. This is your journey and a journey it will be. The only thing you have as a compass to direct you are visualisation.

Imagine yourself on a podium as a keynote speaker, in a job interview, explaining to your child how to work out a math problem. You need to know your reason for wanting to control your speech better. Think of it as a superpower. What will you do with the power to communicate without barriers?

Belief is a powerful tool to have and you absolutely must have it to change anything about you that you want to. You have to believe that you can.

Ask yourself this…

Do you speak fluently when you’re alone?

The majority of those who stutter do and if you can answer yes to that, you have hope. You only need to add to that discipline, tenacity and a ferociousness to fight for what you believe you can win.

That win will be better speech, the day when you can converse openly and relaxed, without worry. The thoughts and anxieties won’t go away, but they’ll also not trip you up.

Any form of self-improvement takes hard work. You can’t change your circadian rhythm over night, but you most certainly can reset your sleep cycle, naturally.

Now if you can change what you do when you’re sleeping, you can definitely change your behaviours when you’re awake.

The most challenging part of striving for better speech

What you’re going to find the most difficult is changing your thinking. Your stutter is both physical and emotional and it’s the emotions you associate with it that trigger it to become worse.

That’s why you find yourself stuttering more when you’re hyper-stressed. The tenser you are, the more work your facial muscles have to do, the more thoughts that race through your mind, and the words get trapped, and so do you.

It’s a vicious circle and it’s hard to break but break it you can. Break the habit by changing your thinking. Think positive, stay motivated; focus on changing your speech and thinking patterns, and practice solo speaking, because that’s what’ll make the world of difference.

Strive for control. Not complete fluency. If you’ve tried any techniques, or even therapy to get rid of your stutter, you’ve likely skipped right past the first part of acceptance. Accept it first, believe it second, and then take your journey to improve it yourself. Even speech therapists can only point you in the right direction with tips and techniques, but it’s your belief that will ultimately lead you to take control of your tongue.

One day.

Stick it out.

How To Conquer The Fear Of Stuttering

For most people with a stutter, the fear of speaking can be paralysing. So paralysing in fact, that avoidance tactics are deployed and when they begin failing, life is avoided.

That’s no way to live your life.

The only way to succeed with a stutter is to own it. Be open about it. Tell people you have a stutter and stop trying to fake it.

People are more accepting than they’re given credit for. When you try to avoid the issue, it’s putting more pressure on your mind, leading to fear and tension building up to the point that it can make fluent speech almost impossible.

Own the stutter! It’s what you say that matters most and not how you say it.

Breathe

You’ll have heard this advice numerous times and may want to dismiss it but before you close this tab, take a second and try this.

• Breathe in through your nose

• Acknowledge the scents you smell

• Take in the sounds around you

• Be present in the moment

• Take in life as a still

Are you feeling relaxed?

(Do this anytime with your eyes closed)

The more you are present with your surroundings, acknowledging what’s around you in the world, the more you can become one with yourself.

It is your alone time.

That’s what many people need, just you and your mind.

When you’re feeling relaxed move onto acknowledging your feelings, not your emotions but the sensations around your jaw muscles, your lips, tongue, cheeks, and face.

Feel how tense they are?

What tends to happen when you’re about to stutter is the facial muscles become tense. It’s that tension that makes it almost impossible for normal speech to flow.

Fluent speakers don’t pay attention to whether their facial muscles are tense or not. They just go with the flow. Words flow off the tip of their tongue without them thinking about it.

Because you’ve developed this build-up of a speaking fear, it’s subconsciously causing your facial muscles to tense up because of that fear.

Overcoming the fear factor of stuttering

It is time to let that fear go. Massage your face, loosen your facial muscles and calm your mind.

Take some time out regularly so you can be alone. Calm your mind by breathing, taking your mind to a calm place through visualisation or just find some way to stop your mind racing and becoming paralysed with fear.

Take judgement out the equation by practicing alone.

Practice with your most difficult words

For some people, it’s any words beginning with a T, K or S. For others it’s not so much the letters, but instead certain words. Like the most obvious word you should be able to say easily…your name.

Can you say your name without stuttering?

Many can’t and that’s the most fear inducing word of them all. The one that isn’t in the dictionary but you have to say in all types of situations when you introduce yourself.

Take your most feared words and practice them when your mind is calm. The aim of your rehearsals is to face your fears through practice so that you can build up to the ultimate exercise in conquering fear. Saying your most feared words to real people. Be it at a job interview, on the telephone, or in a restaurant.

Face your fears by practicing alone with a calm mind. Progress to practicing with a friend, and then do it in public. Conquering the fear of speech is the best way to reduce the tension you feel when you’re speaking or even just thinking about speaking.

There is no quick fix, but there’s a lot to be said about confidence. What you’re ultimately doing to control your speech is to own your stutter.

Own your words, and if you do stutter – so what?

It’s not that big of a deal, certainly in comparison to what some other people in the world have to cope with.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your self-esteem is to get a stutter buddy. It doesn’t matter if the other person stutters or speaks with fluency. It only matters that you can trust them not to be judgemental and that you can use them as a sounding board; a sounding board to help build your confidence and to help reduce your overall anxiety.

Treating The Psychological Impact Of Stuttering

For adults with a stutter, it’s often been a part of their speech from a young age. If it isn’t treated in childhood, it lingers there for life, or until you find a way to overcome it. The sad part is that too many people never ever find that alternate way to speak and find their inner voice.

The real key to understand is that the problem isn’t the stutter itself. It is the fact that the stutter has trained your mind to fear the act of speech.

Every person who has stuttered their way through their education days has vivid memories, sometimes flashbacks even of what it was like to be ridiculed during school.

You’ll likely have experienced this at some point too. Standing somewhere, maybe in the playground with your friends, and then the enemy approaches – the smart little kid from around the block, with all his cronies, there to make fun out of you.

Approaching, he shouts over: I know you but I forget your name? What is it again?

Right there and then you’re frozen stiff in a bout of pain, knowing fine well, you’re about to take the bait and say your name and that it is unlikely to come out fluently.

It’s the only time that willpower seems to actually work, when you’re totally scared stiff, filling up with anger and resentment, both at those trying to mock you and at yourself for not being able to say the simplest of things.

Then out of nowhere, out it comes. The burst of explosive energy from the back of your throat that you never knew was there.

What’s it to you what my name is? You begin to yell back at the kid trying to make a mockery of how you speak. You did it though. You yelled it out, maybe even threw in a few curse words for good measure.

WOW you think to yourself. That felt awesome!

The pent up frustration is released, but more than that, it feels good just to be able to get a sentence out your mouth without stuttering.

The Frustration Of Stuttering

Never did you ever stop to think how in the heck you were able to yell an entire sentence without stuttering a single time.

Do you ever wonder why that is?

I did, and I still don’t know the answer!

The only thing that seems to make sense is the fact that when you know you’re going to stutter, you will. The more you think about it, the more anxious you get and while some will say that’s what makes you stutter more, I say, it can to a certain extent. But it can also make it better.

Samuel L Jackson is one man who discovered that his ultimate weapon in the fight against his stutter was to throw in the word “mother****er” and then he’d be able to speak normally.

The reason given is…

That word is filled with negative emotion, energy, annoyance and aggression. Just saying it relieves much of your negative emotions.

That’s what fills us adults with dysfluency issues.

Nothing to do with the words being stuck on the tip of our tongues as we try to draw stale breath and spit them out through gnarled teeth.

Instead of focusing on treating the stutter, treat your mind to a little R & R. Be more forgiving on yourself. It won’t hurt to forgive those that seem to enjoy ridiculing you either. Just tell yourself – they don’t know any better.

The best way to cope with stuttering is through acceptance.

If you can’t accept that you’re still you regardless of how you speak, you’re never going to have the confidence to speak to any stranger without worrying about getting the words to roll off your tongue.

Acceptance is the true healer.

Accept you and you’ll find your inner silenced voice soon enough.

How To Break The Cycle Of Chronic Stuttering

There’s a story behind every person that has a stutter. For the sake of quick reading, I’ll use the PWS abbreviation here.

If this is your first time investigating stuttering, you’ll see the abbreviation used frequently. PBS stands for People Who Stutter. Or Person Who Stutters. Depending on the context of the author.

Break The Cycle Of Stuttering

How a stutter develops

It starts as a behaviour loop

Often this is in early childhood but there are instances with adults who can develop a sudden-onset stutter, often after some form of head trauma or even extreme psychological stress.

Getting the words to flow is next to impossible. From one sentence to the next, there’s a hiccup midway. A pause, a stutter, some form of speech disruption that interrupts the flow of speech mid-sentence.

The worst stutter develops in childhood and carries on into adulthood

There can be support from a professional speech therapist, even intervention from parents trying to help a child get past a stutter to begin to speak fluently.

It’s hard on parents though because they know the child is suffering. They want the same as the rest of us from life. To move away from pain points and into a comfort zone.

That comfort zone is found in solitude. Away from social circles, away from hearing they are speaking wrong, and away from people reminding them they’re doing something wrong.

Kids learn fast and the intervention of speech therapy, while it is a good thing, it’s also enforcing in the child’s mind that something’s not quite right with them and they need fixing.

School doesn’t help with other kids pointing out the flaws. Some kids may tell you of the hassles, others will choose to keep it to themselves.

We all know what school is like. There’s usually at least one problem child who will go out of the way to victimise the different kid, no matter the indifference. Speech, appearance, colour of skin, how they dress etc.

The stigma is attached from school days and shape how children feel about their stutter, which is ingrained in their minds and carried into adulthood.

Low self-esteem trashes any chance of getting rid of stutter

The mind is a science in itself. Research study after study holds no answer.

You have to look into the successes of others who have overcame a stutter and learn the different techniques.

When you do though, know that there isn’t a single one going to help you. It’s all about unique situations and trying a combination of techniques to strike the right balance.

The more you try, the more you fail, the more you believe the stutter defines you. It’s no longer a fluency issue, but a personality issue. Some even go as far as to describe it as a disability.

It’s not exactly what I’d call a disability but it certainly puts you at a disadvantage in life.

Take control with PMA to break the stuttering loop

The only way to turn things around is to get rid of the disadvantage and use fluency shaping methods alongside mental exercise to develop a super strong positive mental attitude.

A positive mental attitude is what will help every PWS break down barriers by first accepting the fluency is a work in progress, and only a part of their personality and not something to define them.

Every single person I know personally and others I’ve learned from and also read about in groups who have shaped fluent speech, have all had a strong positive mental attitude.

Without that, it’s likely not worth trying any fluency shaping methods as it’s likely to get dismal results.

Develop a mind of positivity, believe you can and then give it your best go to break the psychological loop of stuttering.

Image courtesy of getlighthouse.com.

5 Ways For Down On Their Luck Stutterers To Lift Their Mood

Living life with a stutter is no easy feat. In fact, it’s downright draining. When your mood’s low, it’s so frustrating to read and hear the advice of exercise is great for you. Get out walking; go to the gym and all that malarkey. When you’re mentally drained and tired of stuttering, knowing you’ve tried your darned hardest, it’s just too hard to find the motivation you need to do anything.

5 lazy ways to lift your mood

1. Green smoothies

If you haven’t a smoothie maker, you might want to invest in one because there’s so many recipes, you could probably live on smoothies, although I’m not advising you try. I’m no nutritionist, but I think you’re supposed to be eating some solids all the time.

Simple Green Smoothies is only one of many recipe websites you’ll find online. And since greens are great for health and energy, you’ll certainly want to have at least one of these every day.

2. Reduced sugar

When you speak fast, you probably stutter frequently. Too much sugar gives you a blast of energy, which will increase the speed you speak at, but worse is the sugar crash that comes later. When that kicks in, you’ll feel terrible. Avoid the crash and you’ll avoid the blues. And it’s healthier too.

3. More veg, fruit and fibre

Those are the essentials of healthy living so get plenty of them every day.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids

If you’re troubled with depression, definitely get fish into your diet. It’s the richest source of Omega-3, which is what will always keep your spirits upbeat. If you don’t like fish, there are supplements available to ensure you do have enough dopamine production happening at neurological level to keep your mood lifted.

5. Vitamin D3

Alongside having fish in your diet, Vitamin D3 is another essential for those who frequently experience low moods. In fact, all Vitamin Ds are linked to your mood so supplementing your vitamin D consumption will contribute to you having a better mood.

In conclusion

All the above are only related to your food and drink consumption so you don’t need to walk further than the kitchen to start using them.

You can use those as your starting line to lift your mood, and when you later feel you have more energy, then consider the exercise part.

Happy, fit and speaking free from stuttering

Until you get your mind into the right place though, it’s likely you won’t even want to contemplate exercise, but rather focus on finding things you can do to make you feel good.

Usually that’s things that aren’t good for you like sitting down with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s sulking and beating yourself up about your stutter.

Instead, get yourself the energy you need to tackle your low moods first. It’s all too easy to let yourself slip into hibernation so you don’t have to face conversations, when you’re prone to stutter over your words.

Isolation is no good, so get yourself plenty of healthy nutrients into your body, raise your feel good factor and when you’ve got the energy, throw in some exercise.

There’s no point in throwing yourself into speech practice sessions to increase your fluency if you aren’t healthy enough to get out and socialise and use your communication skills.

Put your health first because that’s more important than treating your stutter no matter how severe you feel it is.

5 Reasons Adults Develop A Stutter

Here’s a frightening prospect. Sailing through life with fluent speech then suddenly finding yourself unable to string a sentence together.

That’s stressful in itself and it’s the first thing to investigate when you’re trying to treat it, because you may be directing your efforts to treating the wrong issue.

Known causes of a stutter and what the unknown is:

1. Stress

When I say stress, I’m not talking about one thing. I mean major stress, which is never an isolated issue. It’s a culmination of events that lead to psychological stress, putting the brain under immense pressure, for which at some point, it struggles to cope.

Stress and stuttering often go hand in hand

Major stress can be attributed to bereavement, financial, job security, keeping a roof over your head and emotional problems, which when a combination of life events pile up, they become troublesome to the extent that you experience mental health problems.

It’s for this reason that those struggling to cope with stress should seek medical advice and get their stress levels under control. Without doing that, stress can lead to a stutter developing. When it does, this type of stutter is known as a psychogenic stutter.

Treatment for a psychogenic stutter won’t be solely with a speech therapist. It will be combined with stress management to treat the root cause of the stutter, which isn’t neurological.

2. Drugs

This covers both those prescribed by GPs and recreational drugs people self-medicate with, which is often as a result of not dealing with the first known cause – stress.

However, it can happen due to medical conditions. Health issues can result in you having to take medication regularly and as you’ll know, most have side effects.

If you find yourself dealing with a sudden onset of a stutter in adulthood, consider any new meds, because treating it could be as simple as your doctor changing your medication. Don’t stop your meds to investigate yourself though. That’s dangerous. Always get the advice from your GP because they know what medications do what and the alternatives available.

3. Brain trauma

Adults can find themselves dealing with a sudden onset stutter following any brain injury or trauma. This is neurogenic and can happen as a result of a stroke or any medical event causing a lack of oxygen reaching the brain.

In the event that the stutter is a result of a stroke, speech therapy will usually form part of your recovery and can be successful.

4. Developmental stutter recurrence

Anyone who had a childhood stutter and overcame it can find that the stutter returns in their adult life. This isn’t unusual and again speech therapy can work. Sometimes, as a child, you may have learned avoidance tactics and got along avoiding certain words giving you a very limited speech problem, which didn’t affect your life. However, if it’s still been there, it can return with a vengeance.

When the stutter hasn’t been completely eradicated, stress events can certainly contribute to its recurrence.

5. Idiopathic

When medical professionals don’t know why, they’ll give you a diagnosis of having an idiopathic stutter. It doesn’t mean you’re an idiot. There’s even idiopathic arthritis. Whenever a cause is unknown, doctors just diagnose as idiopathic. With this, you’re only real option for treatment is self-study. It’s hard to treat anything when the cause is unknown.

Image courtesy of allouteffort.com.

Do You Have A Stuttering Buddy?

Oh, how I wish in my days as a stutterer, I had a stuttering buddy. Stutter away for hours, or even just a few minutes in conversation without head-slapping myself each time I tripped up on a word. Life would’ve been just that bit simpler, if only for five minutes.

Conversations were isolators back then. A tricky word, or sentence, would lead to embarrassment and the just… shutting up. One of the things that have helped many with speech problems is being able to have that friendly support of a good mate. It’s why nearly every stuttering group, which either meets in person, or encourages communication through telephone helps people get better at speaking.

It’s someone to sound off on.

You get to say your piece, to people who understand your frustrations.

It’s the foundations that let you practice your speech. It’s that practice, that just the same as any sport, helps you become a master.

Golfers don’t just become champions overnight. Nor do footballers, tennis players, or even bowlers. They continually practice the sport until they’ve mastered it.

The same applies to speech therapy.

It takes consistent practice. Where some believe the practice can be done alone, it’s actually better to have someone to converse with.

Speaking alone, you can have conversations with yourself, but the reality isn’t there. You aren’t having two-way dialogue and that’s why stuttering buddies help. They converse with you. They throw questions at you when they don’t understand your message, and you’re then forced into the battle of saying something that you haven’t rehearsed.

The value of a true friend

Rehearsed speeches are great, but it’s not the reality of how you’re going to speak. Sure, if you’re speaking publicly at an event such as a graduation and you know you need to make a statement of some sort, you can rehearse your speech and likely make it through it fluently with enough practice rehearsing what you’re going to say.

Conversations in real life never work like that though.

You’ll always find yourself on the spot and having to think what you’re going to say, which puts you off thinking about how you’re going to say it.

That’s the problem with stuttering.

People with the speech problem find themselves, unwittingly, thinking about two things simultaneously.
What to say and how to say it.

Natural speakers only think about what to say without worrying about how. Even then, just thinking about what to say is enough to make them say ermm. So even naturally gifted speakers can’t speak completely fluent.

When you add a stutter to the situation, the intensity is magnified. The more practice you get though, the easier it becomes. You master the art of speaking by speaking and it’s always going to be better with two-way dialogue.

Find yourself a solid friend you can count on to be patient with you and set some practice time to speak freely, during which time you can practice any type of technique to help you to speak better. With enough practice and continually testing different techniques, you’ll eventually find the one that helps you to speak more fluently.

Just don’t aim for perfection because it’s not there. Aim for better and you’ll do just fine.

Struggling With Your Child’s Stutter? Try These 5 Tips

Children develop speech problems often early in life, but it’s not always clear from the start. They can speak fluently for years, and then all of a sudden, wham. It’s there.

Often it starts with a slight speech impediment, and then it grows into a bigger problem.

Fortunately, we have good speech therapists and that should be the first port of call, but they can’t be expected to do everything alone. They’ll involve you in the process and give you good pointers to help your child develop a natural speaking fluency.

It takes time, it takes involvement, it takes co-ordination and you can expect it to take a great deal of patience too.

Tips To Help Children Who Stutter

To ensure your child has the best chance of outgrowing the stutter, the following tips will prove helpful.

1. Slow your own speech down

It’s amazing how the way you speak can influence the conversations you have with your child. When you slow your own speech down, they’ll feel more comfortable speaking slower. The opposite usually leads to children trying to match the pace of your speech, which is when a stutter can creep in.

The more it crops up, it’s a confidence knock every time. Use your own influence to control the speed you speak at and that will set the pace for the conversation.

Never rush speech.

2. When you hear it, don’t knock it

The more attention drawn to a speech problem, the more conscious your child will be about it. They’ll feel judged for not being able to speak right. The simplest way to avoid that is not to knock on the door of dwindling self-esteem. Something to never do is force them to repeat words or sentences until they’re able to say it. They’ll run kicking and screaming because to them… it feels an impossible test they’re never going to pass. Give it time.

3. Body language is better than anything you say

There will be times when your kid hits a blocker, which is when they just can’t get the word out. This is when parents feel the need to step in. You don’t need to end sentences on the assumption that you’re helping, because frankly it doesn’t help.

What does help is when they you show understanding and not expressing frustration through your body language. Always have your body language express your interest in what they are saying, without judgment of how they are saying it.

4. Cooperation helps from everyone

Starting with a speech therapist working with the child, they will provide guidance to parents. However, you can’t stop communication there because there are so many other people your child will need to speak to. Family members, classroom assistants, teachers, friends’ parents, dance teachers, sports coaches and many others.

Any advice given to assist the child is best shared with others so that everyone is on the same page. Otherwise, the time spent on speech correction techniques isn’t being maximised.

5. Stop with the criticism and instruct others to do the same

Criticisms can be a major setback as can interrupting and fast paced speech. Granted there will be times when they are super excited to tell you something and when that is the case, it may be more helpful to express calm, let them catch their breath and then wait for them to speak.

It’s much easier to speak when it’s free will and not a coaxed effort. Sometimes you just have to wait, let it play out, avoid criticisms and pointing out the obvious.

Image courtesy of worldartsme.com.