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Stuttering: causes, myths, treatments, and practical tips

October 22 is the world day of stuttering people, who today number about 70 million, including, surprisingly, such famous personalities as Marilyn Monroe, Joe Biden, Emily blunt, Julia Robert, ed Sheeran and many others. What is the cause of this disease and how to live with it? Read the answers to this and other questions about stuttering in the article
This is a communication disorder of a biological and neurological nature, which is expressed in a violation of the smoothness and rhythm of speech. It can manifest itself in repetitions, prolongation, and in some cases, the inability to reproduce individual sounds, syllables, or words.

Causes of stuttering
To date, the causes of stuttering are not known for certain, but research in this area indicates the neurophysiological basis of this disorder, not without the participation of an inherited component. According to statistics, about 60% of stuttering people have a close relative who suffers from the same disease, for example, as in the family of Julia Roberts. Both the actress and her brother, Eric Roberts, stutter. It is a genetic factor that determines the predisposition to stutter.

One of the most depressing aspects of stuttering is the variability in the characteristics of this disorder. In other words, at some point a person can speak without a single stutter, and after a moment begin to stutter a little, and sometimes literally lose the power of speech. All this happens completely out of control, due to circumstances beyond his control , and, unfortunately, can not be regulated by the power of thought or effort of will. For the above reasons, this disorder has grown into a number of myths that are very painfully perceived by people with a stuttering problem.
Myth 1 Stuttering negatively affects intelligence
This is probably the most offensive myth that people with a stutter hear about themselves. It’s no secret that many people think they are stupid. However, there is no scientific explanation for this assumption. A stuttering person knows exactly what he wants to say, but due to neurophysiological disorders, it is not always possible to do it, no matter how much you want to do it. Few people know, but king George IV, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill-all these people stuttered, but hardly anyone dares to call them stupid or feeble-minded.

Myth 2 Stuttering is caused by fear or stress
This is one of the most common misconceptions about stuttering that exists today. Every person at least once during their childhood experienced extreme fright or stress, and it does not matter whether this fact is stored in our memory or not. However, this has not made us all people who stutter.

Stuttering is not a psychological disorder, so factors such as stress , psychological trauma, a person’s personal temperament, family dynamics, and environmental influences are not the cause of it, although they can easily become a trigger if a person has a predisposition to this speech disorder.
Moreover, you should not think that stuttering people are prone to being nervous, afraid, anxious or shy. They have the same full range of personality traits as those who don’t stutter.

Myth 3 parents are to blame for children’s stuttering
Despite the fact that the exact causes of stuttering are unknown, experts are sure of one thing: that stuttering is not to blame, it is not the result of bad parenting or trauma of the child-parent relationship. Stuttering is not the fault of the parents or the environment of the child, just as the child does not choose to stutter of his own free will.
The origins of stuttering
About 5% of all children go through a stuttering period, which can last from six months to two years.

As a rule, this happens at the age of 3-3. 5 years, during the period of intensive formation of speech and language skills. 3/4 of stuttering children outgrow this disease and completely restore speech by 5-6 years. However, 1% of these children continue to stutter for the rest of their lives. And if an equal number of boys and girls stutter during the formation of speech, then later, among people who have not got rid of this logoneurosis, there are 3-4 times more boys.

Risk factor
A number of factors influence whether a child will be able to get rid of stuttering or it will develop into a chronic form. However, individually, none of these risk factors is sufficient reason to diagnose a chronic problem.

Genetic predisposition
The risk that a child actually stutters, rather than experiencing age-related loss of fluency, increases if someone in the family still suffers from this disease. If a close relative has outgrown stuttering as a child, then you probably have no reason to worry.

Children who have stuttering in speech appear at the age of 3, 5 years, most often outgrow stuttering. Those who started stuttering at 5 are more likely to continue doing so in the future.

Duration of symptoms
In 75-80% of all children, stuttering usually resolves itself within 12-24 months. However, children who stuttered for less than 6 months are more likely to develop this disease. And after 12 months of stuttering, the risk of it becoming chronic increases.

The sex of the baby
Girls outgrow stuttering more often than boys. This is due to the fact that in early childhood there are innate differences between speech and language skills in boys and girls.
Treatment of stuttering
The modern market of medical services offers many different methods that promise to get rid of stuttering once and for all: hypnosis, singing, medication, silence retreats, speech therapy classes. However, the effectiveness of these methods has not been scientifically proven individually. As for medical treatment with sedatives, in the West this method is considered not just not effective, but even dangerous, which can lead to even more disastrous consequences.

Stuttering is a chronic speech disorder, so it is impossible to completely get rid of it. But thanks to a comprehensive approach to the problem, you can significantly improve the quality of life.

In order to understand where to start therapy, experts from the American Institute for stuttering suggest presenting this disease as an iceberg, most of which is under water. So the violation of speech dynamics, as such, is only the tip of the iceberg. Its core, hidden from view, consists of avoiding behavior, self-deprecating thoughts and negative emotions that often accompany a person with a stutter.

Metaphorically speaking, an exposed part of ice can melt under the influence of air, while its base remains invariably solid. Similarly, treatment aimed only at relieving the symptoms of stuttering is superficial and partially effective.

To achieve maximum results, therapy should be aimed not only at improving the fluency of speech, but also at improving the quality of life of a child or adult who stutters. the easing of fears associated with the conversation, lowering of conduct on the prevention and improved confidence in ability to communicate.

The best modern practices in the treatment of stuttering focus on the triad “Impact – Behavior – Consciousness”. While many people try to cope with stuttering by learning only physical strategies for producing sounds and words, effective therapy should also address the problem of negative emotions and thoughts that tend to snowball and first cause fear of communication and public speaking, and later cause a person to become isolated from society.

To do this, stuttering therapy should be conducted in all three directions, taking into account the individual characteristics of each person and, often with the participation of a psychologist.

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