Did you know that an estimated three million people in the United States speak with a stutter? Each year on October 22, organizations across the country recognize Stuttering Awareness Day to help increase awareness of this disorder. In support of this campaign, today’s blog will provide some communication tips for people who stutter and their loved ones.
If you have a loved one who stutters: There are a few things you can do to make communication run more smoothly. First and foremost: NEVER interrupt. Although you may feel like you’re helping by finishing a person’s sentence or guessing what they are trying to say, you only convey that you don’t have the time to listen to them or feel like they are incapable of expressing themselves. Second, watch your pace. People often subconsciously mirror the communication patterns of others, so if you’re speaking quickly, your conversation partner may try to match your pace without even realizing it. The pressure to speak quickly can often worsen a stutter. Finally, watch your body language. If your facial expression and body language express discomfort or impatience, the person your speaking with will likely pick up on these signs, which can be extremely upsetting. Social discomfort and anxiety can sometimes worsen a stutter, and you may be sending negative signals you’re not even aware of.
If you speak with a stutter: Don’t underestimate the value of professional speech-language therapy! The main goal of speech therapy is to help you feel comfortable saying what you want to say in any situation. This doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating a stutter. Rather, the goal is often to develop the confidence to speak regardless of whether you stutter while saying it or not. Speech therapy can also involve techniques and strategies to decrease the intensity or fluency of a stutter, decrease secondary behaviors like twitching or blinking, and to more easily get out of a stutter if one occurs. If you’ve tried therapy before and haven’t been satisfied with the results, it’s possible that you haven’t found the right therapist for you. Speech therapy is highly individualized, and finding a therapist that you “click” with can make all the difference.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give us a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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