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Can Stuttering be Treated?

Because it is not fully know what causes stuttering the progress towards better treatments for stuttering has been hampered however, in general, stuttering can be treated to varying degrees. Factors effecting the outcomes of treatment are:

1)   The modality of treatment chosen

2)   The experience of the person offering the treatment

3)  The duration of the treatment program 

4)  T he age of the person seeking treatment

5)   The motivation level (to reduce the symptoms of stuttering) of the individual

6)   The degree to which the individual if affected by their dysfluency in enjoying life and achieving their goals

7)   The support given to the individual following treatment

8)   The degree to which the individual has emotionally and psychologically reacted to their stuttering

9)   The degree of the physical manifestation of the speech dysfluency

Now let’s look at each aspect in turn.

1)   There are many approaches to the treatment of stuttering and some have proven to be more effective that others. Having said that, what is an effective treatment for one person may be an ineffective treatment for another. It can be a difficult exercise but it is a matter of trying to determine what method is going to be right for the person taking into account many factors.

2)   As with the treatment of any disorder a lot of the success or otherwise depends on the skills and experience of the teacher or clinician undertaking the treatment. If it is speech therapy that is required then it is important that you not only seek out a qualified speech pathologist but one who is experienced and successful in treating not just stuttering but the level of stuttering (with all its associated symptoms) that you are trying to eliminate. If you are interested in approaching the problem from a non-speech pathology approach, and there are many, then it is once again important that you thoroughly look into and research the effectiveness of the proposed treatment in treating you and your problem, not just stuttering in general.

3) Changing a person's stuttering behaviour can be a difficult task especially if the person is an adult who has been stuttering for a long time and especially if the person has a severe block. Research has shown that the longer a person is subjected to the treatment program in an "intensive" environment, the more likely the person will meet with success following the treatment and the better chance of the treatment having a lasting effect. 

4)   As a general rule, with most treatments, especially speech therapy, the younger the treatment is commenced the better. This is true because the longer the individual lives with the inability to fluently communicate verbally the more chance there is of speech avoidance behaviour developing and this can be more difficult to remove.

5)  In most cases and treatment modalities the treatment of stuttering requires some form of repetitive learning that involves the individual learning a different way of thinking and/or    speaking and as with the learning of any skills a level of motivation is required to achieve the desired outcome. As with all motivation the outcome is dependent of just how much the individual wishes to alter the behaviour and for many a journey into eliminating the symptoms of stuttering may result in a realisation that what one is trying to eliminate is not that big a problem after all and a level of acceptance can even contribute to a lessening of the symptoms especially in adults.

6)   This is tied in with 4) above. Many people decide that dysfluent speech is not a major issue in their life and do not seek treatment. This attitude is dependent on the attitudes that the individual has developed from childhood and growing up towards their stuttering and experience that they may have had in the past concerning treatment for the disorder. It is not unusual to find a person with what might be perceived by others as a disabling or abnormal level of speech dysfluency yet the person is able to function in life with no apparent concern for the dysfluent speech. This is not unusual but uncommon.

7)  Treatment for stuttering, especially the more common for of treatment being speech therapy, requires a lot of effort on the part of the person who is trying to eliminate their stuttering and a supportive environment around them whilst they are in this process of change is important. Support is needed from family and friends and also work colleges in many cases and ongoing support from the speech pathologist is essential. For many people undergoing such change, participation in a peer support group is always a good idea and in that regard there are many peer support group organisations that have been setup for people who stutter and those attempting to recover from stuttering.

8)  While many of the treatment modalities are effective in removing most of the physical symptoms of stuttering, at least in the short term, there is generally a relatively high degree relapse and this is generally triggered by the fact that the “fear of stuttering” is not removed. It is this fear of stuttering that for many is at the route of their problem and unless this addressed with an equal amount of vigour as the physical stuttering the effects of common speech centred treatments can be short lived.

9)   In general, the worse the stutter, the more difficult is will be to treat. The more regular the stuttering and the more prolonged the incidents of stuttering and the associated struggle behaviour i.e blocks, the more effort on the part of both he individual and the clinician will be.

Having said all this, it is never to late to seek treatment for stuttering and the journey towards seeking freedom from stuttering can be a very interesting and exciting path to self discovery.


For more books, see our book page.

Redifining Stuttering: What The Struggle To Speak Is Really All About

Redifining Stuttering - Harrison