Stuttering Exercise

by Shaun Damon

Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects an individual’s ability to communicate due to disruptions, which are also known as dysfluencies. This condition is most often seen in children who are in the speech and language developmental phases, between ages 2 to 6, and is known as developmental stuttering. Stuttering seen in adults is usually the result of neurogenic factors such as trauma or injury to the brain, or brain disorders and diseases. In these cases, the motor speech ability is affected due to ineffective functioning of the nerves in the brain or central nervous system, resulting in stuttering. Apart from these factors, stuttering can also occur as reaction to an extremely traumatic or psychological event.

Stress or stressful situations can often escalate the severity of stuttering. Some tasks that may seem mundane for people with normal speech patterns may be seem stressful to those suffering from stuttering, and even just thinking of performing those tasks may bring about or make the stuttering more apparent than normal.

There are different therapies that are either combined or used in isolation depending on the individual’s age, severity of the issue, previous medical health conditions, genetic role and other vital factors. These are speech therapy, drug therapy, support groups as well as lifestyle changes to help treat the disorder.  There are also exercises for stuttering that revolve around relaxation and de-stress mechanisms, speech exercises, reading exercises etc. Let us look at some of these exercises in a little more detail:

  • Breathing Exercises: Regulated breathing can help relax your body and especially the jaw and throat that usually tighten up in stressful situations in people who stutter. Breathe in and breathe out deeply a couple of times before you start talking. This will help you calm down and allow for more oxygen intake. Repeat a particular vowel sound that you may have trouble producing and follow it with deep diaphragmatic breaths. Meditational breathing every day and help bring about calmness, reduce stress and allow for your mind and body to be relaxed.
  • Speech Exercise: It is helpful to think about what you are going to say, play it in your mind once, relax your breathing, and then say what you want to say. Do this in front of a mirror, practice a few sentences first at a very slow pace. Increase the speed slowly and gradually till you feel you are comfortable with talking in a normal pace. Set achievable and realistic goals for yourself.
  • Progressive Relaxation Exercises: These exercises are designed to relieve stress from chronically tense muscles. The muscles involved in producing and creating speech and sounds can undergo stress due to stuttering. Deep muscle relaxation helps to manage stress and rid stress psychologically as well as physiologically. To perform these exercises, you need a quiet place with soothing low-volume music in the background to filter out any external noise. You can either sit in a chair or lay down on a yoga mat. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths with focus on the jaw. Now clench your jaw real tight for a couple of seconds and release it completely. Next, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and leave it pressed hard there for a few seconds, release and relax your tongue completely. Lastly, press your lips tightly together for two to three seconds, and release and relax. Practice these routines four or five times.
  • Reading Exercises: Taking deep breaths, practice reading a book at a slow pace. Do not stress yourself out to get the right pace.
  • It is important that these exercises are meant to work in unison with the treatment given by your SLP.
Reference
  1. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/stutter.aspx

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