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Is It Really Possible to Cure Stuttering?
Although there is no known cure for stuttering, there are easy things you can do that will transform your speech and, for all practical purposes, eliminate your stuttering!
Notice I didn’t say “completely eliminate your stuttering”. You see, it turns out that very few people have perfect speech. Pay attention the next time you hear Barack Obama, the president of the United States and perhaps the most powerful man in the world, give a speech or an interview. If you’re paying attention, you’ll hear him occasionally stutter, repeat and use interjections (like “uhm”). However, most people do not think of him as a stutterer, because most people do not pay attention to those few words, as long as they are not excessive. And that same observation holds true for most people. It turns out that a very small minority of people are truly fluent (ie have perfect speech almost 100% of the time).
That said, we’ll soon figure out how to eliminate most of our stuttering and blocking episodes to the point where they’re not very noticeable. On the rare occasion that we encounter a stutter, we will learn how to make it sound natural and smooth.
Before jumping into the details, we need to understand how stuttering occurs.
Try the following experiment:
With one hand, take your other hand and make sure they are locked together, as shown in the picture on the left. Make sure you hold on tight.
Now try to pull them, but make sure you don’t drop them. Keep trying to install as much as possible, without letting go.
Did you notice what you felt?
If you haven’t, try the simple experiment once more. This time, pay close attention to how you feel. Be careful of the mouth, lips, throat and stomach.
You notice that all these muscles suddenly tighten and become very tense.
This process is known as the Effort Closure Process. It is a normal process that has many uses, such as performing force procedures, protecting our bodies from external dangers, and it is also the process that helps us produce speech! This Closing Effort Process is also the main cause of stuttering!
Speech is produced when we build air pressure in our lungs and then strategically release the air to make sounds and form sentences. To increase the pressure, our brain instructs our body to use the process of closing the effort as it did in the exercise above. Research shows that stutterers struggle to control and regulate their Effortful Closure Process. So, for example, we can apply too much or too little pressure, or fail to “release” the pressure at the right time.
This is what goes wrong when you stutter
– Find a sound you’ve struggled with, like the “p” sound at the beginning of the word “PLEASE”
– To pronounce the sound “p”, the upper part of the body tightens so that your lungs can increase the air pressure.
– With your lips closed, your throat and mouth tighten a little, to preserve the pressure.
– Just when you are about to release the pressure and vocalize your “p”, your muscles fail to obey the command of the brain
– Your lips are still tight, your upper body is still tight, you are putting more and more pressure
– Your body does the only thing it knows how to do instinctively during times of stress: the process of shutting down the effort
– As the pressure continues to build and you haven’t released, your extreme tension could make you shake your head or squint.
– You could continue this for a while, or you could stop and repeat the process several times
– You feel very anxious, nervous, embarrassed and stressed
– Finally, the sound comes out, but it is very hard, and you are very conscious now
– The tension remains in your body and you struggle with many other words
So now that we understand stuttering, how do we fix it?
Remember the important fact that we revealed earlier: the stuttering occurs when the closing process of effort malfunctions. Therefore, to get rid of unnatural stuttering, we need to focus on learning how to do the closing process of the effort properly. We also need to learn good speaking techniques, especially those that help our speech flow more smoothly and effortlessly.
But learning good speaking techniques alone is not enough. As stutterers, we develop bad breathing habits (typically we take shallow and fast breaths) and breathing is an extremely important factor in reducing the likelihood of stuttering. It is also very important to learn to relax the muscles involved in speech, because during stuttering our muscles are very tense.
Speaking, breathing and muscle relaxation techniques alone are not enough. You also need to develop some mental habits that will help you to be aware of what causes your stuttering, and also work on the emotional aspect that is associated with stuttering.
How to Conquer Your Stutter in 10 Steps
– Have a complete understanding of how speech works, and how stuttering occurs
– Understand how your body performs the closing process of the effort, and how it causes stuttering
– Train your body to do a PROPER stress closing process
– Develop an awareness of how tense your body is and how that affects your stuttering
– Train your brain to communicate correctly with your speech muscles
– Learn speaking techniques that minimize the likelihood of stuttering (easy start, light touches, pullout, etc.)
– Learn good and good breathing habits
– Program your mind to make all these techniques a habit
– Break the emotional cycle of stuttering, and develop a stronger understanding and self-awareness
– Establish new habits in your mind so that all these new habits become second nature to you
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