We were given the incredible opportunity to join ABC10’s network for an interview regarding all things stuttering. Our goal was to spread awareness and education!
Some key points from our time on-air:
Q: What exactly is stuttering?
A: Stuttering is a breakdown of speech. This can look like sound or word repetitions and/or blockages that prevent fluency of speech. It may be viewed as a speech disorder, speech impediment, or simply a characteristic of that individual.
Q: Do we know the cause of stuttering?
A: There’s not one specific cause of stuttering and there still is so much research that needs to be done on this topic. What we do know is that stuttering has a genetic link and there is also a breakdown in the way that a person who stutters’ brain sends signals of speech patterns to their mouth to initiate speech.
Q: Is there a way a parent can identify a stutter in their child?
A: Yes, of course! Some kids may present with a stutter at an early age, from around 2-6 years old. This is common and can be attributed to the fact of overload of information and almost learning all new things “too quickly”. Sometimes the brain and the mouth just need time to catch up! In this case, the stutter will usually subside naturally. If the stutter does persist past the age of 6 years old, then it would be time to seek out a speech evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. This is all just something to be aware of as they get older, and early detection is key! If you are concerned as a parent, a speech evaluation never hurts.
Q: What is the best way to address a stutter in your child if you suspect they may be having fluency difficulties?
A: The best way to address it is by starting with a speech evaluation performed by a speech-language pathologist, as early detection is key! An evaluation is always available, and your child can be reassessed on a 6-month basis to ensure that the stutter naturally subsides, or to schedule regular speech therapy sessions.
Q: Is there a cure for stuttering?
A: There is no cure but there are definitely techniques that can be taught for a more fluent way of speech. My company, Speechagain, is a digital tool for people who stutter that goes through and teaches those techniques for a more fluent way of speaking and gain control of their voice. Unfortunately, though, there is no over-arching cure.
Q: I’m sure this can play a role in someone’s self-confidence as well. Are there any tech tools out there for people who stutter to access therapy?
A: Absolutely. As you said, it may harm someone’s self-confidence. Right now, Speechagain is specifically for young adults/adults who don’t have time in their busy schedules or accessibility to go to speech therapy. Adults want to be confident though! They want to get their dream job, secure a promotion, or even go on a date. It’s so important to give adults these tools for speech therapy and that’s what Speechagain does. We are an accessible web-based platform that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Our users can implement it into their morning routine with their coffee, or after their children go to bed at night. It’s an easy way to enhance confidence as an adult!
Q: Do you have any other tips for dealing with a stutter?
A: Stuttering is a very complex speech disorder. It’s important to remember that speech therapy is important, but there are also so many secondary/emotional components of stuttering. Working with a speech pathologist is very important to target not only speech techniques but the emotional components, the anxiety, the way it affects people socially, as well as any other secondary symptoms that are occurring.
Q: And you mentioned the online tool that you have, are you getting some good feedback?
A: We are, yes! I just spoke to a user this morning, as I love to reach out to our users personally and gain any feedback and see if they have any questions. The individual I spoke to is an adult working in the technology field and he was so excited to be using a tech tool to gain control of his voice. He shared he didn’t have time to go to speech therapy and this tool was perfect to do at home, especially now that most people are working from home anyway. Virtual therapy is now more popular than ever, so we’ve had great feedback and we’re so happy to provide an accessible and affordable tool for everyone.
Check out the full interview, where our Chief Speech Language Pathologist, Mallory Stempfley, shares all of the facts!