What is Stuttering? 4 exercises to improve it.
Stuttering is a big concern for parents. One of the main questions that I hear nowadays is, is there a difference between stammering and stuttering? The answer to this could be yes and no. It depends how technical you want to get.
Stammering is when you have involuntary pauses. So to us in stuttering, we call those blocks. In stuttering, there’s many different ways that you could stutter. You could stutter by repeating initial syllable words, sentences, phrases. You can also stutter by elongating the words such as instead of cookie, making it coo-ookie.
You can also stutter her by having blocks, which means there’s no airflow and coming out. The airflow stops, which is the same thing as stammering. I guess we can say that stammering is one of the ways that you could stutter.
Another difference between stammering and stuttering and stammering is used in British dialect and stuttering is used here in North America. It’s kind of the same and kind of not, it depends who you’re speaking to.
What causes stuttering?
Stuttering has many different causes, it depends what kind of stuttering. There is neurogenic stuttering, which occurs to patients that have suffered a brain injury or suffer from a brain debilitating disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementia. Neurogenic stuttering is usually for adult or I guess for a child who has suffered a brain trauma.
There’s also developmental stuttering, which occurs to children between the ages of two to five. It has to do with the myelination of the brain and using the right hemisphere versus the left hemisphere when using language. It also has to do with the way your language develops and a lot of environmental factors and genetic factors that go along with development as a child.
There’s also psychogenic stuttering, which occurs to patients who have suffered a psychological trauma and they’re psychologically have been predisposed to stuttering. That’s a different kind of stuttering as well.
Is stuttering hereditary?
It has been proven that stuttering is genetically based. There are certain chromosomes that have been pinpointed to produce stuttering. it does have to do a lot with the genes, but it also has to do a lot with your temperament, what kind of person you are, you’re sensitive. It has to do a lot with your environment, how you grew up, where you grew up and what kind of environmental factors. It’s a mix between your genes, your environment, and your temperament. Not just hereditary but doesn’t mean that it’s not hereditary.
If your child has early signs of stuttering, you should definitely keep an eye on. The signs that you should look for are, for example, repetitions; children’s start stuttering by repeating syllables.
If your child all of a sudden starts repeating, you know, “I, I, I,” more than two units at a time, so it’s not just “I,I” it has to be “I,I,I.” Three plus that is a red flag for stuttering. If your child kind of has a block after it. It’s like I want, you know, a cookie that is something to look for. If your child is making the vowels are the words longer. So, “I want a cookie.”
These kinds of things are not things that we considered within normal limits for kids. If your child starts to do that, um, you should definitely keep an eye on it. If your child is between the ages of two to five, they might start and it might fade off. It’s spontaneously they will recover from it. But if you see that it’s been going on for a while and it’s kind of getting worse as it goes along, then it’s definitely something that you have to look into.
A lot of kids stutter on the word “I,” they stutter on pronouns, they stutter on articles. Most of the times they don’t start our own content words. They probably won’t start around verbs. They won’t stutter on adjectives, they’ll stutter in pronouns, like I said.
You have to kind of keep an eye out, write down a sheet of paper, what they stutter. When they stutter is also really important as your child’s stutter in the morning, does your child’s Stutter at night? Does your child’s stutter when they’re excited, when they’re telling a story? These are all things that we look for because most kids start stuttering when they’re excited and they’re in a rush to speak. They don’t stutter when they’re calm, when it’s a peaceful environment. These are kind of the things you should look for. This is what we look for when we evaluate a child who stutters.
How do you look for help from a speech therapist?
The first thing you should do is talk to your pediatrician about it and asks for a prescription for an evaluation. Once you come in for an evaluation, we do run a series of tests. Most of the times we do the SSI-4, which is an index for stuttering, where we take a sample of how long your child stutters for. How many seconds does he actually repeat the word? We take a sample and how many times they repeat the word, so on the frequency. We also take a sample on the any physical movements or any physical concomitants that go along with the stuttering such as blinking or head nodding or stomping or any of those things is also something to look for.
If your child’s stuttering and they do faces or they kind of make a gesture that’s something to keep an eye on. I’m stuttering is diagnosed after we give the test and we see that the frequency is too high or the duration is too long. What do we consider normal is 93% of your speech should be fluent and 7% of your speech can be deployed. If it’s over the 93% percent, you know, if it’s under the 93% then that’s an issue. If your child is stuttering on 10% of his conversation, then we consider that to be stuttering.
Developmental stuttering, it occurs only in children from the ages of two to five. As quick as it comes in, as quick as it can go away. Depending on, you know, several environmental factors that, you know, go along with the stuttering. If your child is developing sort of a stutter, my suggestion is that you start speaking really, really slow, that you don’t give your child, tasks that are taxing on the brain. A lot of parents think it’s cute to tell their kids to see a really difficult word or really long sentence or something that’s really taxing on the brain and that actually creates a lot of stress for the child and it produces–sometimes it can create for the child to be diffluent, which in turn can produce more disfluency. We don’t encourage for parents to make their kids kind of show off in a way where they’re sounding really, really smart because it can actually be detrimental for their language development. So that’s something that I always tell parents not to do. I always suggest that parents don’t stress out the kid.
Don’t kind of wake them up in a rush. Don’t make them eat their breakfast, dinner rush, don’t rush them. Rushing a child can also produce disfluencies. You kind of want to be grounded and peaceful and go slow.
They are different types of stuttering. There’s repetitions, which is when you repeat either syllables, you repeat word are you repeat phrases and the repetitions are more than three units, which is more than three times. That’s one way of stuttering, which is the most common way, which is the first way people start to stutter.
Then there are prolongations, which is when you make the words really, really long. That’s usually the second step to stuttering and then there’s blocks, which is when there’s no air airflow and nothing comes out and you’re kind of stuffed which is like, you know, and they try to push through for the word, but it doesn’t come out, which that’s also what people call stammering. Those are the different types of stuttering. Like I said a little while ago.
Red Flags in stuttering
Kids acquire the most amount of language from the year of 2-5 years old. At that point, the brain is tacks learning s many different vocabulary words and doing so many different skills, learning so many new things.
Language is the big, big part of your brain being stress out from the years of 2 to 5. Sometimes developmental stuttering occurs from the ages of 2 to 5 and this is all characterized because your brain is doing so many different function that stuttering may occur.
What is developmental stuttering?
Occurs in children from 2 to 5 and most of these kids start to stutter by repeating words. They would either repeat a syllable such as “I,” or they can repeat a phrase, “I like cookies.” They could repeat a word, “I like, I like, I like cookies” or two words. Usually, kids who starts to stutter repeat units of two. Once they repeat the word twice, it’s considered a form of stuttering.
There’s an also different form of stuttering, there’s prolongations, which is elongating a word so you could say, “I— like cookies.” That’s a form of stuttering. The last form of stuttering is called “blocks” which is blocking the air from your vocal chords to be able to produce a sound such as, “I like cookies.” These are the three basic core behaviors under the umbrella of what we call “stuttering.” Can spontaneously recover by itself, it depends on many factors. Usually, the kids who got cured by themselves are usually females. It’s hereditary. The genes actually have their recovery factors. There’s many different ways and factors that could help you recover by itself. 75% of the kids who have developmental stuttering have spontaneous recovery. Most of the kids who stutter are boys. It is a predominantly male disorder. There are four boys to every one girl who stutters.
When you have a child that you think is stuttering, the best thing to do is to get the child to a speech therapist as soon as possible. A lot of the times, stuttering has to do with self-esteem so if the child is not aware of doing it, it can actually be beneficial to be able to make it better. Once the child starts to notice that there’s something wrong in his speech pattern and people are making fun of him, stuttering can become worst.
What can you do as a parent if you see that your child is stuttering?
First thing to do is take them to a speech pathologist and there’s different tips on what to do at home. The best tips I recommend if you think your child might be stuttering is to talk really, really slow at the house. Include a lot of pauses in every word that you say, use a pause. Do not interrupt your kids when they’re speaking. Do not speak for your kids, do not rush your kids and try really hard to not make your kids feel that they’re being pressured. They are being looked at and that they’re speeches are under some sort of malfunction.
What can you do at home to reduce stuttering?
You have to talk slow. I know it sounds kind of silly and it sounds like something super common, like it’s not a big deal but it’s a huge deal. Your speech, your rate of speech should be slow for a patient who starting to stutter. Also, you want to take away environmental factors that can create stress. If your child is not a morning person or it takes longer, you know, a plan for a longer time so your child can move slowly. You know, don’t try to rush. Also, if your child is a talkative child, don’t cut them off. Don’t ask too many questions. Be patient and don’t interrupt them and the most important things that you can do is give your child positive feedback.
Don’t make the child feel self-conscious that they’re stuttering. Don’t stress them out telling them to start over, do it again. You know, you don’t want to do that. You don’t want the kids to feel not good enough, especially in their language abilities because that will create more and more disfluencies in the future.
The exercises you could do at home, like I said, are all the same things. You know, talk slow. You want to talk to your child in a slow speech rate. What do we consider to be so about 110 words per minute is considered to be slow. From 120 to 160 is considered to be conversational speech and anything over 160 words per minute is way too fast. I know that’s probably pretty technical and nobody’s goanna sit with a stopwatch but just try to speak really, really slow. If you think you’re speaking so you’re speaking slow.
Kids are really, really good on noticing when something is wrong. They want to please their parents and most of the kids who stutter always feel the pressure to please them. The number one tip would be is to make sure that your kid feels comfortable and that you’re not giving your kids a hard task so they don’t feel that they have a lot of pressure.
If you’re looking for any other information about stuttering, you can contact us. My name is Patricia Ruiz. I’m a Speech-Language Pathologist from Miami Speech Institute. We do help a lot of kids with stuttering. I do know a lot of tips and a lot of different tricks and techniques that we can do to help out the kids.
4 exercises to improve stuttering.
When you speak, do you constantly and involuntarily repeat certain letters or sounds? If you do, you likely have a stutter.
The practical effect of a stutter is that it reduces one’s ability to communicate with clarity and without interruption. This may, in turn, lower confidence in one’s ability to speak, or create insecurities about speaking.
If I’ve described a situation you can relate to, this blog is for you.
There are 4 exercises you can perform to reduce your stuttering and improve your speech. They’re simple and can be completed by anyone with a stutter, anywhere.
The first and most important step is a method of breathing known as diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing.
Diaphragmatic or deep breathing, and shallow or chest breathing
Deep breathing is performed by contracting one’s diaphragm. The diaphragm is a horizontally – placed muscle located between the thoracic and abdominal cavities.
People normally utilize a method of breathing known as shallow breathing, or chest breathing. Chest breathing is performed by drawing breath into the lungs by contracting one’s intercostal muscles instead of the diaphragm.
If you stutter, chances are you breathe shallowly. You’ll want to breathe deeply instead. To do it, “breathe” from your stomach and “fill” it with oxygen. Then, exhale to make your stomach as flat as possible. This is diaphragmatic breathing. Its benefits are that:
- It calms your nervous system, thereby making you feel more relaxed.
- You can enunciate more words, since you have more oxygen with which to do so.
- You stutter less, because when you speak while diaphragmatically breathing, you do so while exhaling.
Shallow breathing, on the other hand, has opposite effects: it puts your nervous system on the fritz and can result in or be symptomatic of hyperventilation; you enunciate less words since you have less oxygen with which to do so; and it either does nothing for or worsens stuttering.
I previously brought up speaking while exhaling as you breathe diaphragmatically. I’d like to discuss that technique in greater detail, as it is the second exercise I recommend.
Speaking on the exhale (while diaphragmatically breathing)
To effectively speak while exhaling, you:
- Breathing while contracting one’s diaphragm (as opposed to one’s chest).
- Exhale carefully (not necessarily slowly).
- Speak while exhaling.
For example, if you want to say, “I like cookies,” you would breathe in and contract your diaphragm, exhale, then say, “I like cookies.”
Don’t stop speaking to exhale. Speak while exhaling. If done correctly, you’ll eventually stutter less because you’ll have air coursing through your vocal chords, which will make them vibrate. The vibrations will in turn diminish the involuntariness of your stutter.
Think about it: if, again, you said, “I like cookies,” and did so repeatedly by stopping your breathing to speak, you would likely begin stuttering. You may say, “Ah… I like cookies.” The “Ah…” signifies you having to take a break and ‘catch your breath’ because you are restricting the flow of oxygen into your lungs to speak. To avoid this, it bears repeating that you should speak while exhaling.
The next exercise incorporates diaphragmatic breathing and speaking while exhaling, at the same time. As such, it is more complicated than the first 2 exercises and does not work for everyone. For those it works for, however, it helps with conquering stuttering significantly. The exercise is called pacing.
Pacing while speaking
Pacing involves accompanying your speech with gestures.
• You can tap your foot or snap your fingers to give yourself a rhythm to speak with.
• As you speak, you break up the syllables of the words you use, almost as if you were counting them.
• For example: “Apple. Banana.” If you break up the syllables, you get, “Ap-ple.” Ba-na-na.”
• Pacing poses a challenge because it is thorough. To do it properly, you must pay attention to your rhythm and maintain it.
Some people dislike pacing because they dislike the way it makes them sound; it forces them to speak deliberately and slowly, and it gives an unnatural spin to speech. Nevertheless, you should at least give pacing a try to ascertain whether it is good for you.
The fourth and final exercise is called “light context.” This is a phrase used to describe syllables and words that ‘expend’ a lot of oxygen to enunciate. Such words typically start with the letters ‘P,’ ‘M’ and ‘T’, like “patty,” “Mom” and “tomato.”
These are words which you must stop breathing to pronounce; where you have to purse your lips, tighten your tongue and speak them. This means that people who stutter will find such words difficult to pronounce because they must stop breathing to say them.
To perform the exercise of light context:
- Consider a word which emphasizes the “Puh” sound, like “Patty.”
- Remove the emphasis in your own pronunciation of such words. Lighten your lips; don’t smack them excessively, as that will agitate your stutter.
When to perform these exercises
All 4 of these exercises have 1 thing in common: they can be performed first thing in the morning, and last thing in the night – time. Personally, I recommend my patients perform these exercises for 2 – 3 minutes in the morning, before getting out of bed. I advise them to fill their diaphragms (not their chests) with oxygen and making it flat before exhaling. For a visual, I also advise my patient to lay flat on an even surface, place a book on their stomachs and try to breathe diaphragmatically. These directions can be repeated at night, just before going to sleep.
These are the 4 exercises I would suggest for those seeking to decrease their stutter. If those with stutters dedicate themselves to performing them as I have directed, I am confident that, with time, their fluency will improve, and they will feel better about speaking.