STUTTERING

Speech Therapy for Adults

Stuttering (sometimes referred to as disfluency) is a communication difficulty that affects one’s fluency and flow of speech.

Stuttering may include repetitions of words, parts of words, initial letters of words as well as prolongations (stretching out of sounds). Sometime speech may become entirely blocked. The causes of stuttering are complex and varied.

In adults who stutter, there is likely some childhood stuttering that has continued into adulthood or has worsened with time. Most adults seek help from a speech-language pathologist (S-LP) when they notice their stutter has started to affect their personal and/or work-related activities.

In most cases, stuttering affects at least some daily activities. For some people, stuttering only happens during specific activities, for example, talking on the phone or speaking before large groups. For many others, however, communication difficulties occur more frequently at home, school, or work. Some people do not participate in certain activities because of their stuttering. Others may avoid certain words and in extreme circumstances avoid participating in conversations altogether.

Speech-language pathologists (S-LPs) are the professionals who have the training to help adults reduce their stutter and feel more confident when communicating with others. For adults concerned about stuttering, an assessment is recommended. The assessment will determine the severity of the stuttering as well as the effect on that person’s quality of life. The S-LP will likely include an assessment of “difficult communication situations”.

The overall goal of therapy may not be to eliminate the stuttering completely but to help the person communicate more effectively and confidently, enjoy communicating with friends, partners and in the workplace. Teaching the individual to speak more fluently is a very important goal. The S-LP may work on those specific activities that the person finds more difficult e.g. speaking on the phone, going on a first date, expressing an opinion and talking to a boss etc. Real life practice using a variety of strategies will be encouraged.

The SL-P will carefully select the most appropriate techniques for therapy, taking into consideration the client’s individual needs. This may include “easy breathing” or “gentle starts”. Tension modification may also be used which includes learning how to release the tension so that speech can be smoother.

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