Guest post by Ralph W.
Have you ever imagined how painful and demoralizing it will be when you are afraid of speaking in a group or when you are with your friend just because of your speech disfluency? This is what we (the people who stutter) are going through all over the world on daily basis. We can’t express ourselves fluently, and we don’t even have courage to talk because we are scared of our own weaknesses. This has necessitated the need to discuss secondary behaviors relating to stuttering and how they can be overcome.
Stuttering otherwise known as speech disfluency is a disorder in communication in which speech flow is obstructed by repetitions, prolongations or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllabus. Sometimes in stuttering, there may be unusual facial expression or body movement in an attempt to speak. Stuttering is also known as stammering. Stuttering has a gross emotional effect as it can be tough struggling with words, hence the stutter becomes super sensitive out his difficulty. It is one of the most common speech disorders we have. Its is easily associated with disturbance inability of normal fluency and timing pattern of speech as well as a disrupt of social communication academic and occupational excellence.
1 in 100 person stutters and this condition also affect children between the ages of 2 and 10 years with a 3:1 male and female ration respectively, which shows that males are more affected than female.
The development of stuttering can be linked to four factors, these factors are:
Genetics: Over 60 percent of people that stutter have a family trace. In other words most people that stutter have a family member that does as well.
Child development: Children that have had issues with speech, languages or other developmental delays are more likely to stutter.
Neurophysiology: A recent neurological research has shown that people that stutter speech are slightly different from others that do not stutter.
Secondary behaviours associated with stuttering
Secondary behavior is a way of dealing with stuttering by stutters. One of the problems with these secondary behaviors is the fact that they usually help to build fluency at the initial stage. However, overtime they will stop working and become bad habit. Most times secondary behaviors accumulate and form endless circles. In other words, when you try to stop a particular secondary behavior sometimes, new ones will come up. Some of the most common secondary behaviors associated with stuttering are discussed below:
- Posturing: This is one of the most common secondary behaviors associated with stuttering. It involves gesticulating usually used in an attempt to make speech. Some of these gesticulating features include; stomping foot, moving hands, trunk jerk, head turn, raising the eyebrowetc. Most times these posturing behaviors become bad habits when they are displayed for a very long time.
- Respiratory: This is another secondary behavior associated with stuttering and it has to do with the respiratory pattern of the stutterer. This behavior involves fast or shallow breathing, breathing too often.
- Facial: This involves facial expressions like grimaces, loss of eye contact, closing/blinking eyes.
- Vocal: This is one of the most noticeable behaviors associated to stuttering. It involves talking faster or louder, change in voice quality, Pitch goes up and down and other vocal related behavior that are associated with stuttering. There is also the fear of sounds voices and words as well as repetitions and prolongation of words.
- Syntactic and Semantic: Gestures, word/sound changes, use more injections like hmm, ehhh, etc. These behaviors are very obvious in people who stutter and it could be very embarrassing to people who stutter and can make them lost confidence in talking freely in the public.
How to overcome secondary behaviors
The various ways of overcoming this speech challenge these include:
- Early Intervention: Once stuttering is noticed at an early stage, it could be stopped especially through stuttering modification therapy and fluency shaping therapy. This onus lies mainly in the parents or guardians’ hands, when you notice that your child is stuttering, try to correct it gently and avoid overlooking it as a characteristic of childhood development.
- Speech- Language Pathology (SLP): A speech language pathologist is a trained professional, whose main stay is to diagnose, assess and treat stuttering. The SLP considers several factors such as family history, secondary behaviors, types and frequency of the behavior, as well as triggers of stuttering. The SLP also teaches the individual who stutters how to control their breathing and vocal expressions. They teach their clients how to pronounce word in a slower and less tense manner. However, the success of this therapy is large reliant on the stammer’s effort.
- Tension And Relaxation: A stutter automatically has to fear of vocal expression which in turn plays a significant role in activating stuttering hence, he tends to force trouble- free speeches. The best way to solve this is to make effort to reduce your tension and try to relax specially through the use of new drugs which work to reduce anxiety and fear. However, these drugs have their own side effects.
- Exercise: There are some exercises that involve particular muscles. One could focus on the ones used to control the tongue, mouth, lips, and vocal cords and breathe. When these are properly exercised it could be beneficial during speech. General body exercises could also be of good benefit which would boost health and self confidence that stutterers often lack.
- Adopt Positive Attitude: Adopting positive and assertive attitude combined with controlled techniques could lead to a tremendous improvement in your vocal expression. Stutter openly and avoid pretense because hiding your stuttering tendencies would only increase it.
- Gentle And Slow Pronunciation Of Speech: When talking, do so in a smooth and gentle tone, word could be pronounced in an easily and calm manner and if constantly practiced could erase stammering defect. Prolongation of all sounds of all words and of transition to the next word or sound is highly recommended. This could help to develop and strengthen the pattern of articulation.
- Elimination of stuttering gestures: The elimination of secondary behaviors such as foot tapping, eye blinking, ear pulling, and facial grimaces amongst other would also help to alienate stammering. First, you have to identify those behaviors that are peculiar to you and work at stopping them.
- Eye Contact: Maintain eye contact with the person you are communicating with. This would reduce the feeling of shame and timidity in speech difficulty, you could also try speaking in front of the mirror, video camera or telephone talking as much as you can while controlling your pronunciation slowly and gently and asses yourself after the exercise.
Where to go from here?
SELF THERAPY FOR THE STUTTERER BY MALCOLM FRASER (pdf)