How to Stop Stuttering – Treatment & Speech Therapy
Stuttering can cause anxiety for children, but there are various ways to control it. From quick fixes to powerful speech therapies, there are many solutions for the different forms of stuttering.
How to Help a Child Who Stutters
Stuttering is a common condition among young children. It is a disorder that can cause disfluency and the repetition of initial sounds, affecting the normal flow of speech. Many kids grow out of these symptoms by five years old, but stuttering after that age is a reason for concern. If you are anxious about your child, you can have them undergo a special assessment of stuttering behaviors, known as the Test of Childhood Stuttering (TOCS). Fortunately, if your toddler is diagnosed with the condition, there are several stuttering strategies available. The real danger is waiting too long to get help, as it is harder to correct stuttering behaviors the longer you wait.
Can Stuttering Be Cured?
There is no cure for stuttering. However, many effective stuttering therapy techniques can minimize the disorder to the point that it can be hardly noticeable. Depending on the severity of the case, individuals may need to continue treatment of stuttering for years to keep the condition under control.
For parents nervous about how to fix stuttering in their child, there are many treatment options available. Your child’s doctor or SLP will develop a plan that they feel is the best fit. They may look into the specific symptoms, patterns, triggers, and overall type of stuttering your child has. They may select one – or more – of the following treatments.
Speech Therapy for Stuttering
Can speech therapy fix stuttering? Out of all the approaches, it seems to be a proven, evidence-based approach to alleviating many of the disorder’s behaviors and symptoms. There are many activities within speech therapy, including teaching people to:
- Slow down their speaking
- Identify problems and typical stuttering times
- Develop strategies to decrease stuttering
- Work on fluidity in speech and language
SLPs, through speech therapy, can help children make significant strides, whether in one-to-one sessions or through customized plans. For stuttering, IEP goals can be developed at IEP meetings that help students achieve success throughout their academic careers. For the vast majority of children suffering from this disorder, speech therapy seems to be the most effective option available.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, aims to reduce speech-related anxiety as it alters how people think and behave. As one of the available ways to treat stuttering, it can positively impact people with the condition. It involves educating individuals about stuttering, teaching mindfulness and relaxation, humming, and extending sounds to reduce their stutter.
As a form of stuttering modification, electronic devices can help train people to speak correctly. Some of these stuttering devices direct users to slow their speaking pace, which is a common approach to stutter reduction. Other versions allow people to speak simultaneously with the machine, which can help eliminate some stuttering behaviors in the short-term. Depending on the device and severity of the stuttering, these machines can be quite useful. However, many of their effects are temporary and require users to continuously use them to see results.
Medication for Stuttering
While several medications are prescribed to patients to meet stuttering goals, they are often designed for other conditions. For example, the three primary drugs commonly used – alprazolam, citalopram, and clomipramine – are for combatting depression or anxiety. Overall, they are generally ineffective as a stuttering remedy but may work if used in conjunction with speech therapy.
How to Stop Stuttering with Quick Fixes
While these long-term approaches are critical, there are other tips to avoid stuttering now. Some of these quick fixes include:
- Mindfulness and trying to relax as much as possible
- Speaking extra slowly, pausing during speaking
- Avoiding specific trigger words
Much of stuttering is mental, and a calculated approach to it can be very beneficial.
How Parents Can Support Stuttering Therapy at Home
Many of these approaches, such as speech therapy, work best when reinforced by parents. If you are wondering how to help a stuttering child at home, there are several ways to assist. Parents can model slow, deliberate speech for children. They can create a calm, positive environment at home to reduce anxiety. Allowing children to finish sentences and sounds is imperative for their success, as well. Additionally, parents can advocate for children who experience bullying and insults due to their stuttering.
Exercises to Help a Stuttering Child at Home
Besides supporting outside therapy at home, parents can work on specific exercises with their child to help stuttering. Some of these activities include:
- Loud vowel pronouncement: focus on the exaggerated pronunciation of a, e, i, o, and u
- Pausing strategy: stop speaking after every 2-3 words
- Jaw technique: open jaw fully and have child move tongue up and back in the mouth
- Straw drinking strategy: emphasizes correct tongue placement
- Breathing exercises: belly breaths, focus on deep breathing relaxation techniques
If you think your child may benefit from speech therapy, then request a free consultation with one of our expert virtual SLPs!