by Elizabeth McKelvy
Stuttering is a speech impediment that causes blocks, prolongations, and repetitions. Stuttering is not deadly, nor is it uncommon.
More than 7 million people worldwide have a stutter.
When It Begins
Symptoms of Stuttering
Prolongations are when a stutterer continues on with a word or sound (llllllike this). What happens is that they get stuck on that sound or letter and just press down on that letter until they can say the word that they are stuck on. This and repetitions (li-li-li-like this) are causes of running across a word that they can't get past/have trouble on.
Stuttering can be slowed, lessened, and sometimes completely cured. But most often, speech therapists work on helping the stutterer to control/monitor the speed that they speak at. In the past years, doctors have tried curing stuttering. In the 1700's stutterers would get flogged (beaten/whipped). In the 1840's doctors would cut the nerves at the base of the tongue.
How you can help
Yes, SLP's can and may fully help the patient they are working with, but an important role in recovery is the listener. When a person starts talking and stutters, the listener might think that they can help the speaker. Believing this will help, the listener might try to speak over the stutterer, look away, fill in the word, or simply not talk to people who stutter. These reactions are not helpful but actually worse than just sitting there and listening. The stutterer is aware about their speech impediment and are trying to control it, and having these reactions can make the speaker race through their words and possibly stutter worse. Listeners who seem impatient and annoyed make the stutterer stress and worry, and this can tense the muscles to the point of making the reaction have a negative outcome. To keep these things from happening, the best thing to do is listen to the speaker. Don't talk over them and make sure they can see that you are listening. Have patience and do not interrupt or make faces when they are stuck or have a block. Also, suggestions like "slow down", "calm down" and "take a breathe" do not help the stuttering. It makes the stuttering seem simple to overcome, when in reality it is a lot harder than that.
Connections; who do I know with this disease?
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