Stammering (clinically referred to as dysphemia) is a form of speech defect concerned with an involuntary action of repeating or prolonging of syllables or words. For example, when a person pronounces the word “stop” but instead says it like, “sssssstop” or “ssstt-sstt-sttop,” that is stammering.
Naturally, the condition is frustrating for the patient as it not only hampers his/her ability to communicate well, it also opens him/her to perceptions that he or she is slow and stupid. There is no direct link between stammering and mental capacity. Studies show that speech defects like stammering are usually brought on by bad speech habits developed in childhood.
Can stammering be cured?
The answer is an overwhelming yes. Since the condition is primarily caused by habit, given enough time bad habits can be unlearned and replaced with the proper ones leading to correct speech.
How can you get help?
– If you (or someone you know) stammer, consult with a speech pathologist.
This is so that proper assessment of the condition can be made and verified whether stammering is the problem. The speech pathologist will have you read aloud a series of sample sentences or paragraphs, which is usually recorded for further analysis.
– Next a speech therapist will prescribe a series of exercises to correct the defect.
It’s been discovered that stammering is not merely a speaking defect but one that involves listening as well. So listening exercises may very likely be prescribed alongside breathing and relaxation exercises in addition to the ones for speech called oral motor exercises.
How can you help yourself?
– When working with a speech therapist, you may need to make several and frequent visits at the beginning of the treatment, which tapers off towards the later part as improvements set in. But the exercises should continue and be done diligently even outside these visits.
– Experts recommend that the minimum duration in treating stammering is 3 months of consistent therapy. To ensure permanency of results, six months to a year is prescribed.
– The optimum age in carrying out speech therapy is around the ages of 15 and 25. This is because young children may forget what has been learned and revert while older adults may have difficulty unlearning established habits.
Finally, there is nothing wrong with asking for positive reinforcement from friends, family and co-workers when you undergo the measures to cure stammering. It’s only right to do so and those who respect you will only be too willing to help you.
With patience, diligence and some time, the problem of stammering can be solved leading to a fuller and more productive life for you and everyone around you.