Stuttering Instrument

by Sam Malone

One in hundred people stutter in the United States. Stuttering is a disorder where people experience speech interruptions; this may be in the form of elongating sounds, repetition of sounds or words, or have silences while trying to talk. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for stuttering but there are various forms of therapy and anti-stuttering devices available to help overcome this condition.

Stuttering is most often seen in children who are still in the developmental stages of learning language skills, and about 5 percent of all children are likely to experience stuttering for some time in their lives.

The exact causes of stuttering are not known but the condition has been divided into 3 broad categories, such as:
  • Developmental stuttering
  • Neurogenic stuttering 
  • Psychogenic stuttering

Stuttering is diagnosed by a Speech Language Pathologist who evaluates the condition on the basis of various factors such as history, severity, genetic roles, evaluation of speech abilities, and also the psychological impact of the disorder. Stuttering severity instrument or SSI is most commonly used to measure stuttering severity in both adults and children, and is used both for clinical as well as research purposes. The latest edition, which is Stuttering Severity Instrument 4 has been proven to be reliable and a norm-referenced form for stuttering assessment.

But are there devices that cure stuttering? The answer is debatable, as there are a percentage of people who say stuttering devices have cured their stuttering completely, some say it is more of an aid, and the rest have said it has not helped at all.

The two most result giving forms of treatments are DAF, which is Delayed Auditory Feedback and FAF, Frequency-Altered Auditory Feedback. Both forms of treatment involve using an ear device for stuttering. Let us look at how these types of treatment work

  • DAF - Here the device is placed in the ear of a person who suffers from stuttering to hear their own voices, which is delayed by a fraction of a second. This works by inducing slower speech rate with stretched vowels and each syllable being held for an equal amount of time. A short delay helps to stimulate the brain’s auditory processing areas to reduce stuttering by speaking at normal speech rate with normal sounding speech sounds while a long delay helps to bring on motor speech changes, where it induces fluency but at an abnormal and slow sounding speech level.
  • FAF – With the help of an ear piece, the user hears the pitch of her voice shifted lower or higher. This induces speech motor changes, in which a lower vocal pitch relaxes the vocal and breathing folds while a higher pitch enhances speech motor activity.

 
A combination of both DAF and FAF in the treatment of stuttering is said to reduce the condition by 80 percent as per studies conducted. Some helpful tips and things to consider before using  electronic devices for stuttering are:

  • Read and research electronic aids for stuttering before buying one. Some of these devices are expensive, and either have partial money-back or no money-back guarantee at all.
  • If possible, get a trial version to decide what will work best for you.
  • Use a stuttering aid first with an SLP, most speech-practitioners use these devices in combination with other form of treatments.
  • When using an electronic device for stuttering, try to keep your jaw relaxed during speech. Also relax your breathing, and try to speak in a lower pitched voice than your normal voice to enhance fluency.
  • Practice yoga, specifically breathing exercises that will help to de-stress your mind as well as relax your rate of breathing.


Reference
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/stutter.aspx


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