How SLPs Can Help Those Who Stutter

Stuttering AwarenessStuttering is a common speech disorder that affects more than three million Americans, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Stuttering affects a person’s fluency (flow) of speech and a dysfluency is a disruption or a break in that flow of speech. Most people have brief dysfluencies when speaking but a person who stutters has significantly more.

A person who stutters may repeat words or prolong certain sounds when speaking. Stuttering usually starts in childhood and can be outgrown as a child gets older.  However, according to the NIDCD, 25 percent of children continue to stutter. While there is no cure for stuttering, the Speech-Language Institute (SLI) of Salus University offers a variety of resources and services to help.

In general, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work to help minimize the severity of stuttering and the impact it has on a person’s ability to communicate. For children, early treatment is crucial and SLPs offer therapy to help improve a child’s fluency of speech. Since children who stutter often experience teasing, treatment also aims to help them develop a more positive attitude toward communicating.

For teens and adults, treatment focuses on reducing stuttering by teaching them to speak slower, regulate their breathing and gradually progress from single-syllable responses to more complex sentences. Therapy also provides techniques to reduce the anxiety that may occur in social situations.

SLPs can also work with family members and teachers to help them better understand and respond. When talking with someone who stutters, experts agree it is best to not interrupt, but it is better to give the person time to say what they want to say. It’s important not to finish sentences or fill in words because doing so can cause the person to feel pressured to speak more quickly.

Along with treatment options, SLI hosts a Stuttering Support Group, which is a local chapter of the National Stuttering Association. Sessions are held the third Wednesday of each month from 7-8 p.m. at our Elkins Park facility.

In collaboration with therapy, support groups can provide a variety of benefits. The group helps members feel less isolated, offers tools to cope with stuttering and provides a means of socializing with others who stutter.

For more information on SLI’s stuttering support services or to schedule an appointment, please call 215.780.3150.