"Stuttering is painful. In Sunday school, I'd try to read my lessons, and the children behind me were falling on the floor with laughter."
– James Earl Jones
Stuttering, also known as stammering, is an all-too-common speech disorder that's characterized by a disruption of normal speech patterns. Words or syllables may be repeated, prolonged or otherwise spoken incorrectly -- and in many cases, bodily behaviors like blinking eyes and rapid lip movement may also occur. Even though the individual knows the words to say, he or she simply can't manifest the thoughts into actual spoken sentences.
While stuttering isn't necessarily a health concern, it can affect a person's self-esteem and quality of life. People who stutter may experience anxiety when speaking in front of audiences or even small groups. This makes the otherwise normal act of communication a difficult burden, as individuals who stutter often live reserved, recluded lives while limiting their exposure to social environments. The lack of social engagement can open the doors to a whole new world of problems, which is why it's important to overcome stuttering.
Overview of Stuttering
Just how common is stuttering? According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 3 million adults in the United States stutter to some degree (1% of the population). Of course, it's far more common in children, with statistics showing that as many as 1 in 20 children between the ages of 1 and 5 will develop stuttering.
Unfortunately, medical experts continue to debate over what exactly causes a person to stutter. With that said, however, genetics is believed to be a primary risk factor. Children with first-degree relatives who stutter are 3x as likely to develop a stutter themselves. There's also evidence suggesting that auditory processing deficits may play a role in a whether or not a person stutters.
Tips to Stop Stuttering and Overcome Speech Disorders
- Relax your shoulders and neck before speaking. When your body is tense, you will be more likely to stutter.
- Try blocking out the crowd/audience, speaking aloud to yourself instead of those around you.
- Take slow, deep breaths to allow in more oxygen. Shallow breathing will only increase the risk of stuttering.
- Visualize your thoughts and words. Before speaking, try picturing the actual words in your head, reading them like a book.
- Slow down your words. Speaking too fast may cause you to miss syllables.
- Practice speaking in the mirror.
- Remain confident in your ability to speak. If you second-guess yourself, you'll be more likely to stutter.
- Consider hypnotherapy to treat your stutter. A professional hypnotherapist may be able to "rewire" your subconscious to stop stuttering.
Get the support you need to make important life changes. If you would like to complement your therapy with an alternative treatment option (or need a place to start), you might consider trying hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can help you sort out your feelings and give you the courage and strength you need to move on with your life, set new goals, and rebuild an always damaged self-esteem.
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