Stuttering is a speech disorder that is characterized by repetitions or blocking of certain syllables and sounds. The condition affects both sexes, though it occurs about three times more often in males than females. It occurs worldwide, and has existed since the beginning of recorded history. Many famous people are said to have struggled with this disorder, including Moses from the old testament of the bible, and the sex symbol Marilyn Monroe. In truth, most people stutter a little. For those who find it to be a regular occurrence, however, this difficulty in speaking can cause them much anxiety and greatly inhibit their communication with others.
Stuttering usually has its onset between the ages of 2 and 5, during a period of rapid speech and language development. Many children naturally outgrow stuttering by puberty. Those who don't often find ways of coping with it and/or opt for various forms of speech therapy.
People cope with the condition in various ways. Marilyn Monroe coped by speaking in a breathy tone. Some stutterers develop ways of speaking in a sing-song voice or with low volume. Speaking slowly and with conviction helps some people. Many people who stutter find that a diversion of some kind helps improve their speaking fluency. Diversions include speaking while others are also speaking, or while a loud noise is occurring. Some people are more fluent if they write while they speak. Many people who stutter learn to anticipate when they will have a problem with a word and quickly alter their sentence structures to include words they can speak more easily.
Most problems with vocalizing a syllable occur on the first one or two syllables of the first word of a sentence. This is before the flow of speech enables one syllable to fluidly lead into another. Many people who stutter do not stutter when they sing or are alone. Stress increases the occurrence.
Though the cause of stuttering and other dysfluencies, such as stammering, are not clearly defined, many pieces of the puzzle are being found. For example, as was dramatically shown in the movie “The King’s Speech” (recommended for anyone interested in this issue), if people cannot hear themselves speak, the stuttering and stammering stops. This suggests a problem in the feedback loop between hearing ourselves, and speaking.
Most speech therapy programs involve speaking exercises to control one’s speech. They may recommend focusing on the breath and the first one or two syllables of the first word spoken after a breath. Some programs recommend: 1) that your breathing occurs low in your stomach, and 2) that the first one or two syllables after a breath are spoken very slowly with gradually increasing volume (starting at a whisper).
A number of issues are postulated as contributing to stuttering. These include genetics, physiology, food sensitivities, brain and neurotransmitter activity, speech and hearing coordination, hormonal shifts and other biochemical pathways. All of these offer ideas for future study and treatments, and reasons for hope.
Some stutterers have achieved a remarkable improvement by omitting sugar and other foods from their diet. The fact that most stutterers have distinct “good days” and “bad days” gives credence to the hypothesis that a fluid biochemistry is involved, offering many new possibilities for improving fluency. If you notice that you experience an increase in fluency of speech upon waking in the morning (before eating), or a decrease in fluency after a meal or drinking a certain beverage, an elimination diet is highly recommended (see Multiple Food Elimination Diet for a good elimination diet). A special desensitization technique called NAET (see Allergies) can be very helpful in both finding and eliminating sensitivities that may be contributing to dysfluency.
Stuttering is a condition that is more common than many people realize. The problem is often hidden because, understandably, many people who stutter avoid situations that make their speech more difficult. This problem is ready to be solved and is an area where our foundation, the "Jacob and Laurie Teitelbaum Family Foundation," is actively exploring research options. We invite you to help our effort by letting us know what treatments have helped you to speak more easily. You can do this by visiting The Fluency Research Project.
It is this kind of feedback that can help direct and drive our research efforts and can lead to the effective treatments we are looking for!
An Upcoming Research Project
A study was recently published (funded by our foundation) showing that NAET dramatically decreased autism. In the study, 23 of the 30 children treated with NAET were able to return to normal schools after a year of treatment vs. none of the 30 untreated children.
Now our foundation’s focus is turning to exploring NAET for stuttering and stammering.
If you or your child would be interested in participating in a year-long study to research the effect of NAET desensitization on stuttering, we invite you to contact Laurie Teitelbaum at NAETHawaii@aol.com. The treatments would be at no cost if done in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. We are hoping that the study may extend to a few other cities in the future.