Stammering and stuttering refer to the same thing – a disruption in the smooth flow of speech. This is characterised by sound or word repetitions , stretching sounds out e.g. baaaaall or blocking, or combination of these. There can also be a build up of tension observable in the face and body, and disruption to normal breathing patterns.
Stammering in children
Initially, goals will be set for your child to work towards in therapy and these will be discussed with you. Additionally, a discussion about your child’s interests will help to tailor therapy materials to best motivate your child during therapy sessions and home practice.
Therapy is carried out on a one-to-one basis. There is a clinic room on site, alternatively visits can be made to the child’s home and may also be arranged at your child’s nursery or school if requested.
In childhood, sometimes stammering can occur briefly and then it will pass and never return. This is common and termed normal non-fluency. However, in others, stammering can continue to fluctuate for longer or persist in to adulthood.
The method of speech therapy used for children will depend on the nature of the stammering and the child. In early childhood, a method called Parent-Child Interaction therapy is one of the most frequently used. This involves working with the whole family in supporting their child through communication and play, rather than focusing directly on modifying the stammering behaviour in the child.
In older children, when they are more aware of their speaking, then therapy may start to introduce techniques that focus more directly on changing the stammering behaviours. Again the type of approach used will depend on the individual presentation and needs. Speech therapy is about minimising the negative social and emotional impact of stammering on the child.
Stammering in adults
When an adult has been stammering for some time, a set of thoughts, feeling and expectations about stammering have been learned and reinforced. Often these are unhelpful, negative beliefs which can lead to the avoidance of certain speaking situations, for example speaking in large groups or on the telephone. Speech therapy focuses on the identification, and modification of thoughts and feelings towards stammering in order to facilitate improved communication and participation. A part of therapy also involves facilitating the use of strategies to speak more fluently. Therapy requires commitment and motivation to change. The Therapist intends to empower the individual who stammers in moving forward.