The Difference Between Fluency Shaping And Stuttering Modification

Stuttering is an impediment that has a lot of confusion surrounding it. There are plenty of scientific studies and research papers, yet nothing solid enough to tell you how to cure a stutter.

That being said, it is of the opinion of many researchers that both Fluency Shaping Intervention (FSI) and Modification of Stuttering Intervention (MSI) are actually both reasonable techniques to help people develop fluent speech.

What’s the difference between MSI and FSI though?

The difference is in the techniques used to achieve fluency. Using fluency shaping, the focus is on core behaviours that tend to cause the stutter. Examples of that are attempting to understand the stressors that invoke the stutter, whereas MSI focuses on embracing the stutter and modifying the speech pattern. An example of MSI would be to prolong syllables in order to mask the stutter, and accept that it will happen.

With fluency shaping, what you’re doing is influencing your speech pattern using controlled measures such as focusing on your breathing to help you relax, because when you’re stressed out about speaking, then it’s likely to be a stressor that causes you to stutter.

stress and stuttering go hand in hand

However, there are going to be times when you trip over words, even when you achieve fluency. That’s why it’s best to use a hybrid approach of both stuttering modification and fluency shaping and practice both methods continuously.

It’s like everything else in life. Learn what you need to learn, and then use what you’ve learned to achieve whatever goals in life you have.

That’s why it’s best to know about both MSI and FSI.

Fluency Shaping Strategies

Easy onset is a technique that starts with a vowel and focuses on breathing. Taking a breath and turning your voice on while you exhale to produce a smooth flowing sound. It’s believed to be a good starting point for stuttering therapy as it allows you to get more of a feel for your breathing when you’re speaking.

There is also the breathing techniques that are nearly always used. If you have a stutter, then there’s every chance you’ve already practiced some type of breathing technique to help you manage your stutter. It’s the logical place to start.

Prolonging sounds is another type of fluency shaping technique, and it could be said to go hand in hand with easy onset practice. There’s also pausing during speech and controlling your speech speed that can be practiced too.

The objective of fluency shaping is to speak fluently naturally, and control the stutter when it does happen.

Stuttering Modification Therapy

MSI techniques take an accepting approach to the stutter and instead of the goal being to achieve fluency; it’s about using techniques to manage the stutter. The most common method of MSI is deliberate stuttering; learning to embrace the fact that you do have a stutter, instead of trying to cure it.

Another MSI strategy is using pullouts, which is when you change the stutter when it happens. An example of that could be when you hit a hard stutter and cannot get the word out, so you could change it to an easy stutter by focusing on your breathing, finishing the word and then that could be followed by a cancellation. A cancellation is after the word has been changed from a hard stutter, into an easy stutter and then the stutter is cancelled by repeating the word that was stuttered.

Using MSI, the objective is not to control when you stutter as that cannot be determined, but by using the modification techniques, students can control how they stutter and not when.

Fluency Shaping Vs Stuttering Modification

With fluency shaping it is possible to manage your stutter efficiently, whereas with MSI, you are changing the way that you stutter. When you compare the two types of therapy, there isn’t really any one that can stand on its own merit.

Instead, to achieve fluency, the best approach is the well-rounded one, where you learn fluency shaping techniques to achieve spontaneous fluency, but when that fails, it will be handy to know how to speak with a stutter, which is where stuttering modification would be used alongside fluency shaping.

The hybrid approach to fluency is the best way to manage your speech as there will be high stress times when your stutter comes back to haunt you.

When that happens, and you don’t know how to modify your speech from a hard block to an easy stutter, you can be left in an awkward position when you may need to use cancellation anyway. At least if you know about both fluency shaping and modification of stuttering intervention, you’ll be equipped with different techniques to handle any situation you find yourself in.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at