You have probably seen it on the television or in a movie, sometimes used to unfortunate comic effect (we are looking at you Porky!), but for people actually affected by stuttering it is anything but funny. Stuttering is a serious speech disorder that causes a person to interrupt, repeat, or prolong sounds, syllables, or words when they are trying to speak.
An estimated 1 in 100 Australians stutter, the condition can affect children, adolescents, and adults. For most people, stuttering starts in childhood, between the ages of about 2 and 4, but in some cases, it can begin later, even during adulthood, for example in the case of someone suffering from a stroke or head injury. Stuttering can suddenly happen to someone overnight, or it can slowly build up over time.
People who stutter know what they want to say, but find it incredibly difficult to get the words out, they seem to get stuck, or find themselves repeating the same word over and over, or pausing at certain syllables. The affliction is extremely frustrating, and very often causes the person to simply clam up and not say anything at all, which can have adverse effects on socializing, education, and employment!
Stuttering must be taken seriously, and never laughed at or made fun of, demonstrating patience and understanding toward the person stuttering can help calm the person, and even lessen the effects. Although a total cure for stuttering has yet to be discovered, there are treatments available that can help control it, the best thing to do is visit the dedicated professional speech pathologists in Australia who can use their thorough knowledge to assess the situation, then implement a program that will alleviate some, or in many cases, all of the symptoms. The key is to get help and stop suffering!
If you’re the parent of a child who stutters, the speech pathologist will:
- Ask you questions about when he or she first started stuttering, and when and in what situations the stuttering most frequently occurs.
- Ask how stuttering affects your child’s life in regard to relationships with peers, teachers, and performance at school.
- Talk directly to your child about it, asking him or her to read aloud in order to listen for subtle differences in speech.
- Differentiate between the normal childhood repetition of syllables, mispronunciation of words, and stuttering that could indicate a long-term condition.
- Rule out any other underlying conditions that can cause irregular speech like Tourette’s syndrome, or physical problems.
If you’re an adult, the speech pathologist will ask you similar questions, focusing on any health conditions you have, and how stuttering has impacted your relationships, career and other areas of your life, in addition to asking you to examine how much stress it causes you. The pathologist can recommend methods of alleviating stuttering, including breathing and relaxation techniques like yoga, learning to speak more slowly, and addressing anxiety issues.