Is there a Cure?

Stuttering is a disorder characterized by inappropriate, dysfluent speech behaviors. Behaviors can be modified, shaped, and controlled but not cured, therefore this disorder cannot be completely cured. However, successful treatment is possible. Some adults attain such a high degree of success that they consider themselves to be “recovered.” Unfortunately, at least 50% of recovered individuals report that periods of stuttering still occur.

Inappropriate Attempts at Self-Treatment

  • Most adults who stutter have already experienced numerous attempts at treatment through speech or other forms of therapy such as voice counseling and hypnotherapy that have not been successful. As a result, adults are skeptical about the effectiveness of treatment, especially when compared to children who stutter.
  • Feelings of shame and fear often lead adults who stutter to adopt inefficient means of coping with the disorder
    • Avoid difficult words- use circumlocution and synonyms
    • Avoid certain situations
    • Behaviors: bravado, clowning, avoiding eye contact with listeners, avoiding discussion of dysfluency problems

Therapy

Selecting the Right Therapy

  • There is no one universal, successful treatment approach.
  • One cannot begin therapy with his or her own treatment approach in mind because subjectivity will interfere. Speech Language Pathologists are trained to understand the disorder and choose the most appropriate plan for therapy.
  • 2-4 hours per week of formal speech therapy is recommended, plus 4 hours of individual practice each day. Every time the affected individual speaks or attempts to speak, an opportunity for improvement arises.
  • The client must force himself or herself to feel uncomfortable in order to improve. Deliberately speaking in public or in difficult situations over and over again, despite the occurrence of dysfluency, will prove to be beneficial.

Client Understanding and Responsibility

  • The client must understand that stuttering cannot instantly be remedied by a professional. The client is responsible for educating himself or herself about the disorder and actively engaging in treatment procedures. Without sufficient understanding, the disorder is likely to become more complex and severe.
  • The client must accept limitations and recognize that errors will occur.
  • Potential for success must also be recognized and goals should be set accordingly.
    • If goals are too high, frustration and disappointment will result.
    • If goals are too low, the client will never reach his or her full potential.

Treatment Obstacles

  • Success is highly dependent on the motivation and efforts of the client. Since an attitude of self-awareness and understanding is not always easy to adopt, about 1/3 of adults who stutter do not improve with therapy.
  • Although most affected adults want to put an end to their stuttering behaviors, they do not want to change who they are. They associate their dysfluency with other natural behaviors such as thinking, feeling, and reacting. They fear that these processes will change if their stuttering stops.

Positive Results of Therapy

  • increased fluency
  • improved self-esteem and self-image
  • more positive attitudes toward speech and listeners
  • new occupational opportunities
  • improved social life
  • reduction of fear and pain during social interaction