About 1.5 percent of the global population is affected by the very common speech disorder called stammering.
What is Stammering?
This speech disorder is characterized by involuntary pauses or inability to utter a letter or syllable while speaking. Stammering usually happens when uttering words which start with or sounds produced by the following letters: b, d, g, k, p, and t. It might also show symptoms such as tremor of the jaw, red face, and blinking while talking.
Who Can Be Affected?
This speech disorder usually appears in childhood, at the age between 3 and 7 years, and in this period it’s not serious. However, if it continues beyond the age of 10, it should cause a concern. According to statistics, 1 of 4 kids who stammer continue stammering up to adulthood.
Although both sexes can be affected, stammering is more common in men.
Implications of Stammering
Stammering is benign condition with no physical implications. Stammering in childhood (2-5 years) is normal as children develop their speech abilities in this age. This should normally disappear with age.
There are no physical implications of the benign condition called stammering. We mentioned that if this disorder continue and it’s left untreated, it can lead to serious emotional, social, and psychological implications. It can cause the person lose the motivation to speak, and to be silent at school, among friends, and even at workplace to prevent possible mocking.
What Causes Stammering?
The major causes of stammering in children are physiological factors. They can stammer because of one of the following reasons:
- Obstruction in the speech organs
- Inability to control the speech organs’ muscles
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Difficult movement of the lips and tongue
However, this speech disorder in advanced age can be caused by some psychological factors such as anxiety, scorn, tense family atmosphere, arousal, and loss of confidence in a person’s ability to talk without stammering.
5 Exercises for Stammering
In cases of stammering caused by psychological reasons, the following exercises have proven to strengthen the speech organs, including lips, tongue, trachea, jaw, and lungs, which lower the stammering intensity and even completely cure this speech problem.
It’s recommended to do these exercises at night before bedtime, and in a secluded area.
1. Pronounce the vowels E, A, I, O and U loudly and clearly, with strong articulation and don’t forget to distort your face every time you pronounce them.
2. Without pushing too hard, open your jaws as wide as possible. Then, raise your tongue so that the tip of the tongue touches the mouth roof, with open jaws. From the mouth roof, drag the tip of the tongue backwards, and when it’s maximum stretched (make sure not to hurt it) hold it in that position for several seconds. Then, pull your tongue outside the mouth and try to touch your chin by stretching it downwards. Keep it that position for couple of seconds. Do this four or five times.
3. Doing deep breathing exercises will help you provide strength to the organs in the respiratory tract, and relax the accumulated neuromuscular tension in the body. Here are some of the many varieties of deep breathing exercises:
- Breathe in deeply through your mouth and breathe out immediately and slowly
- Breathe in deeply through your mouth and pull the tongue outside the mouth while breathing out.
- Breathe in deeply through your mouth, and simultaneously, press your chest muscles inward. Breathe out slowly
Of course, you can have a different pattern of breathing exercises, but make sure you don’t overdo any of them and make variations every 1 or 2 minutes.
4. This is a reading exercise which requires a text that you should read it quickly without focusing on the speech quality. This kind of reading which prefers speed rather than quality, will help you identify words subconsciously. So, don’t stop if you pronounce some word or syllable incorrectly. This exercise will relax your muscular tension and improve all speech obstruction if done regularly for 2 to 3 months.
5. Another effective exercise for this speech disorder is singing, as it helps the person learn to better control the phonatory muscles and breath. You can also try some theatrical activities.
5 Lifestyle Changes for the Treatment of Stammering
1. Inferiority complex. The only true solution to cure this speech disorder is most likely building confidence in a person’s ability to speak correctly. But this isn’t easy while making nervous mistakes in every uttered sentence. Those who stammer naturally have inferiority complex, and dealing with it, is the most important task in overcoming this problem. It is essential to talk openly with a person who stammer when s/he approaches with this subject. Moreover, it’s important to keep a relaxed atmosphere at home to help the kid speak without pressure or stress.
2. Way of Breathing. It is known that everyone should breathe from the stomach instead from the chest, as this way of breathing naturally relaxes and calms down the muscular and nervous tension, so it’s beneficial in treating stammering.
3. Family support. The stammering treatment requires support from the family. All family members should try to help the person with her/his anxiety problems as it is usually the only reason for this speech disorder. They should do the following things:
- Listen carefully, when s person who stammers speaks
- Not react harshly or punish such person
- Have patience for the person to complete his words/sentences
- Not speaking fast and not interrupting when a person who stammers speaks
- Not completing the person’s words or sentences when s/he tries to say something
4. Visiting a speech therapist. A speech therapist will diagnose the root cause of this disorder and prescribe the appropriate medications, exercises, and/or perform interventions in specific cases.
Speech therapy is obligatory in case of physiological defects for the treatment of stammering. Speech therapists can as well do psychotherapies in case the reason for stammering is psychological, such as impoco, hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, or role plays. Other relaxation techniques used for treating stammering are yoga, acupuncture, and spa.
5. Hearing Aid. The reduction or elimination of stammering can also involve some hearing aids. The user’s voice is recorder by the electronic device’s microphone, and it is sent back to his ears after split-seconds delay or at a vaguely changed frequency.
This method of speaking and at the same time listening to a person’s own saying is very effective, and over time the person will gain enough confidence to talk without the electronic device.
Foods for Treating Stammering
There are no specific foods that can cure this speech disorder, but there are some which can help the function of the speech organs.
1. Indian Gooseberry. Chew some fresh Indian gooseberry by first keeping it over your tongue, and then swallow it. Repeat this every morning for a period of several months. Chewing and eating this fruit thins the tongue which is important as stammering usually occurs if the tongue is thick.
2. Honey And Salt. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of honey. Rub the mixture to your tongue for 10 minutes every morning in a period of few months. You will notice an improvement.
3. Clarified Butter/Ghee. It improves the brain function and memory. If you consume 1 tablespoon of ghee after meals 2 times a day, your stammering will slowly be improved.
4. Almond and Black Pepper. Prepare a mixture of almond, black pepper, and water to make a nice paste. Take the paste every morning for a minimum period of about 2 months.
5. Brahmi Oil. Leave it on for at least an hour. Then wash your head, with warm water. Brahmi oil will help boost memory power and the brain. Do this continuously, every night for a couple of months.
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