May 262010

Stuttering is a type of speech impediment. In stuttering, a person either prolongs certain sounds/syllables or repeats them so that his natural flow of speech gets hampered considerably.  Stuttering affects a considerable number of people, though most of them are successful in overcoming it.

Sometimes it also happens that people who used to stutter in their childhood, automatically shun this habit once they reach maturity. Such case are however very small. In some of stuttering cases, people stutter only when they are nervous or have to address a gathering etc. Otherwise they are perfectly okay. In this sense, stuttering has strong psychological overtones associated with it as well.

It can be a result of some kind of shock, faulty upbringing at the initial stage (1-5 years) or because of some disease. Some children stutter because they can’t think fast enough to translate their thoughts into words. Generally, people who stutter develop low self-confidence and hesitate from taking initiatives. Such students prefer to be backbenchers and are passive in their approach. They tend to develop stress and feelings of cynicism because of the laughter and censure that they have to bear in life.

You, as a parent have to be extra tolerant in such cases. Don’t scold, rebuke or give angry looks to your child whenever he stutters. This may further aggravate the problem. Rather, provide him a soothing environment in the family and converse with him as slowly as you can to match his speaking speed.

You must consult a speech-language specialist and abide by whatever he says. It’s very common to make frequent appointments with the specialist so that the progress of the patient can be gauged and recorded. Usually, your therapist would call you after every 90 days or so as to make refinements in his treatment. Parents tend to be unpunctual once positive signs start appearing in their child. This attitude needs to be shunned with consistency.

As far as mature people are concerned, they should try to speak very slowly and should regulate their breath a lot while speaking. They should always try to speak short sentences and advance to long ones gradually and as per the dictates of the situation. Once they are able to win over their anxiety, they would feel all the much better.

Certain electronic devices also have been known to increase fluency of speech. But these are still in the nascent stage and improvements are going on. Stuttering does not have an exclusive medicine for its cure, rather medicines that are used for diseases like epilepsy, stress etc. are sometimes recommended for stuttering cases. How good is the efficacy of these medicines in the case of stuttering is still a debatable issue.

The most effective tools to cure stuttering are the will power, concentration and consistency of the patient himself. Therapists help these patients by giving them counseling, anti-anxiety medicines and by devising different strategies for them, which ultimately have to be mastered by the patient only.