Stuttering is a speech disorder marked by disruptions in the normal flow of speech. These disruptions, referred to as disfluencies, often include the following:
Sound repetitions (“b-b-b-boy”)
Prolongation of speech sounds, syllables or words (“Mmmmay I?”)
Use of fillers ("um", "like")
Laryngeal blocks (difficulty initiating sound)
Stuttering events may be accompanied by secondary physical behaviors including eye blinks, nasal flaring, tremors of the lips and/or jaw and tension in the head, neck and shoulders. A person with stuttering might also try to hide disfluencies by avoiding words, changing words in sentences (circumlocution), pretending to “forget” what they wanted to say, avoiding situations or choosing not to speak. Stuttering generally begins in childhood (between 2 ½ and 4 years of age), and although studies indicate that genetics play a role in the disorder, its exact cause remains unknown. While pre-schoolers often demonstrate little awareness of their disfluencies, older children become increasingly aware of their stuttering and people’s reactions to it. For both children and adults, speech fluency may vary greatly from day to day or week to week. Fluency might also be better or worse during specific activities or in different environments.
A stuttering evaluation is performed by a speech-language pathologist. It involves calculating the number and types of disfluencies a person has in a variety of situations (e.g. spontaneous speech sample, oral reading), assessment of oral-motor and language skills (if necessary) and determining the client’s attitude towards stuttering and its impact on his or her daily life. This information is then analyzed to determine the presence or absence of a fluency disorder and its severity.
Treatment focuses on changing speech behaviors and emotions/attitudes towards speaking and communication. Goals might include:
Decreasing frequency of stuttering
Reducing tension during stuttering events
Identifying and decreasing word avoidance and/or avoidance of “triggering” situations
Examining and becoming aware of thoughts and feelings about stuttering
Maximizing effective communication
The amount of stuttering therapy and length of treatment depends the severity of the disorder, the client’s personal goals, and his or her ability to participate in the program. These factors are all discussed at the time of the evaluation in order to determine the best course of action.
I highly recommend Monica. After having worked with Monica for a few short weeks, I’m already achieving significant results with my speech. As a 40 year old sales professional transitioning into a legal career, it’s important that I fine tune my communication skills as much as possible. Interested in getting help in order to speak more clearly, I found Monica’s Bodylink site and set up a diagnostic session. After having seen a few other therapists, Monica was the only professional to perform and in-depth diagnostic review of my speech. Accordingly, I think the guidance she’s provided during our sessions is specifically tailored to my needs and has allowed me to make the progress I have in bettering my speech overall.
--Stephen, Mineola, NY