Treat a stutter when it begins
When we are nervous, it manifests in various ways. Our palms sweat; we can feel disoriented, panicky or stiffen up. Some people stammer because they cannot get their words out coherently. At those times, we all know how shameful we feel and how embarrassing it is when we see others have noticed our discomfort.
Stammering unfortunately is not restricted solely to situation which make us nervous. There are some who suffer this problem every day of their lives and there are many reasons behind this. Public and society tend to react to stammering and stuttering with ridicule – and some even believe it to be a result of possession by evil spirits. Others believe stammering is contagious – there are evidently many in this day and age who remain uneducated and ill-informed. Since the person who stutters has to tolerate ridicule, he or she often balks from seeking treatment. Many of us know people who stutter – they may be our friends or even our family. So let’s learn a little bit about this problem so that we are equipped to help others or advise them.
Stuttering or stammering happens because of an involuntary block in the natural flow of speech. Sounds and syllables are repeated or prolonged and is often accompanied by twitching, blinking or pursing of the mouth because of the effort it takes to say the word. This problem is further aggravated by parents who scold their children for stammering or who make their child pretend it is a disease which must be hidden. The trauma of embarrassment adds to this impediment. Instead, if the child is taken to a speech therapist, it will help his condition greatly.
It is not entirely sure what causes this problem but studies have shown that women tend to me more affected than men and it tends to run in families. Hence studies are being conducted to confirm its genetic link and identify its root cause. It is possible that this may be a result of improper muscle control. A coordination of breath, tongue, teeth, lips, palate, jaw and vocal cords is required to control how you speak and here is where the problem lies. Often, stammering begins in childhood when the child cannot match his or her language abilities with verbal requirements.
On in about 20 children suffer from stammering and thankfully, many of them grow out of it once they are past their developmental stage. If, by the time your child is 5 years old, and he still suffers from stuttering, it is advisable to take him to a therapist. Certain situations like public speaking, talking on the phone etc might aggravate stammering because it makes the person nervous. Those who stammer usually speak in a normal manner when they are with their friends and have no problems singing etc. This is because they are relaxed when they are with their friends and when they are singing, they already know the words of the song – hence it comes out unbidden. Psychological problems, nervous problems and shyness are also reasons that add to stuttering.
Parents are advised to encourage their child to speak slowly and in a relaxed manner. They should never put pressure on the children to complete sentences etc. but should ask them to stop, take a deep breath and start again. Children should be encouraged to face the words that they have trouble pronouncing. Often parents encourage the child to change the word or substitute it, for example, telephone may be changed to mobile because the letter ‘T’ is a common letter that people who stutter have a problem enunciating. This will not help solve the problem and should be avoided. Although it is tempting to avoid situations which induce stuttering, the solution is to face them.
If you have a child who stutters or know of adults who do, or if you have this problem then seek help immediately and results will be evident. Practice simple steps to speak better at home and make yourself improve. Therapy will help you speak in a relaxed manner and therapists are effective at making their clients calm down before speaking. Counselling can get rid of any emotional problems that are behind a stutter and increased confidence can be extremely beneficial. Learn to elongate words, breathe correctly and anticipate what you are going to say so that you don’t have to stop and think midsentence – that interrupts the flow of the sentence. Keep sentences short and simple, use simple words.
If you are talking with someone, adult or child, who has a stutter, never interrupt them or finish their sentences. This will undermine their confidence and make them more embarrassed. And it goes without saying – never, ever ridicule them. If you truly think of them as your friends, and you are a kind person, ridiculing someone who has a stutter is never an option, even in jest. The scars that this leaves only add to the problem.