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Stuttering when speaking is not something that you wish. It is definitely not fun. You get easily mocked, and it can even be damaging to your confidence. However, one theory that is often put forward is that reading out loud can help with stuttering. But, does it?
Reading aloud can help control stuttering. It also often acts as a contributing factor to overcome stuttering altogether. Reading aloud eliminates the need to think of the words in the head – a common cause for stuttering – and allows the person to speak freely without stammering.
In this article, we’ll look at the influence of reading out loud, the causes of stuttering, and some tips to control stuttering.
We’ll use “stuttering” and “stammering” as interchangeable words as the medical condition “disfluent speech” is commonly referred to as “stuttering” in American English and as “stammering” in British English.
Does Reading Out Loud Help with Stuttering?
Reading out loud can help with stuttering. In reading aloud you are seeing the words that need to be spoken and this often helps you not to stutter. By practicing this frequently it might be possible for you to stop stuttering altogether over time.
The problem with stuttering is that it affects you mostly during “spontaneous” conversations and not so much while you are reading a script or speaking a memorized speech.
Many people who stutter will tell you that they can read out loud in private with almost no stutter, but when they are in the real world trying to engage in conversations, they can not help but stammer.
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It is when you have to think of words in your head to say is when you stutter, rather than when reading a written script.
Reading Expands Your Vocabulary and Gives You Confidence
But with all this said, reading out loud can still help you both directly and indirectly. To read out loud without stuttering can give you the confidence to know that at least you can read without a stutter. And one day you may as well be able to speak fluently.
Reading also expands your vocabulary. This helps you to have more words to use, and a wider choice of words can help to stop stuttering.
What is the Main Cause of Stuttering?
Per definition, stuttering is a speech disorder that involves frequent and significant problems with the normal flow of speech.
Generally speaking, stuttering occurs when a person is unable to express what they have to say. This could happen either when a person is thinking faster than he or she is able to speak or perhaps when they are unable to think of the words to communicate. Lack of confidence also leads to stuttering.
Main Reason for Stuttering
There are many reasons for this speech disorder. However, if something has to be singled out as the main reason for stammering, it is simply that people who stutter are unable to say the words in their head that they want to say.
Most other reasons why people are stuttering, boil down to the fact that they can’t express what they have to say or don’t have the confidence to say what they feel. Overthinking the consequences of what is being spoken can also lead to stuttering.
Possible “Temporary” Cause – Lack of Language Abilities
According to studies done at the Mayo Clinic stuttering is common among young children.
It forms part of the process of learning to speak and most young children stutter to a certain extent at times. This is due to their language abilities that aren’t developed enough to say what they want to say. Fortunately, most children outgrow this.
But this lack of language abilities can always stay a problem if you don’t expand your vocabulary and practice your skills to talk to other people as you grow older.
Possible Chronic Causes
Sometimes, however, stuttering is a chronic condition and can persist into adulthood. Generally, chronic stuttering has an impact on a person’s self-esteem and interactions with other people.
Researchers have concluded that a combination of factors may be involved in chronic stuttering. Possible causes include:
- abnormalities in speech motor control, and
- genetics. (Stuttering tends to run in families.)
Stuttering as a Result of Other Conditions
A stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other brain disorders can also cause speech problems. People who are suffering from these conditions often pause their speech or repeat sounds. This is known as neurogenic stuttering.
Even people who do not normally stutter can stutter when experiencing emotional distress, or are just feel pressured in a situation.
How Does This Manifest?
This problem of stuttering can manifest as the repeating or prolonging of a word, a syllable, a consonant, or a vowel. It is also typical for a stutterer to pause during a speech when reaching a problematic word.
Why Do You Stop Stuttering When Reading?
In general, people who usually stutter stop stuttering when reading due to reduced processing time in the brain. Since they see the words that they need to speak, they don’t have to think of the words. As a result, they continue to speak without a break.
Seeing the words also often helps people to visualize easier what they want to say. And, following the words in the book “forces” them to keep on reading without pausing.
Another reason why people stop stuttering when reading out loud is when other people are not listening to them. They don’t experience any anxiety that they might stutter and be embarrassed.
As a result, they feel confident and the stuttering reduces and, in some cases, may completely disappear.
Reading is also known to make you a better speaker! Thus, if you are struggling to overcome stuttering, it is best to practice reading out loud!
Can Reading Aloud in Public Cause Stuttering?
Although reading out loud in private in most cases allows people who stammer to read without stuttering, the anxiety to read aloud in public can often let people stutter again!
However, studies have shown that if a person who has this speech disorder has to address a group of people and the speech is written out and practiced beforehand, the stuttering will be less. And the more frequently this is done, the more fluent the person becomes.
Over time the stuttering can become more controlled.
Phrase and Exercises to Help with Stuttering
There are ways that you can control your stuttering and if you practice this every time you are engaged in conversations it can even lead to stopping stammering in total.
Use Short Sentences
Remember stuttering is a result of your inability to say all the words that you want to say. Practice using short sentences when you are in a conversation with other people.
For example, when you introduce yourself don’t elaborate in long sentences. Just say: “Hi, my name is John Smith. “ When the other person has introduced himself, and perhaps ask about your job, just reply with “I’m an IT technician.”
By thinking in short sentences and responses, it is easier to say the words that you have in your head.
Practice in Front of a Mirror
Look yourself in the eye and practice saying short sentences without stuttering. After you’ve mastered some short phrases in the mirror, try to use only short sentences when conversing with others. Start with a very good friend with whom you feel relaxed.
Focus on Breathing
It is important to have a regular breathing rhythm when you speak. Slow down and breathe in a relaxed way. The moment your breathing is becoming irregular again you will tend to stutter. Learn to take a deep breath before beginning to speak, even in casual conversations.
Reduce the Speed of Your Speech
As you are well aware, stuttering can occur when your brain is not able to provide you the words to speak. The problem becomes worse when you tend to speak too fast.
The trick is to try and slow down your rate of speech. Give enough pauses and provide yourself enough time to think of the right words. Over time, you may gain enough confidence to overcome this problem.
More Tips to Overcome Stuttering
Here are some other tips that can help you with the problem of stuttering –
When you begin to feel overwhelmed by a conversation, stop, breathe and try to visualize what you want to say. Your visualization may be in pictures or words, but you’ll find that you can say things more easily if you’ve visualized what you want to say.
Use an Auditory Feedback Device
Nowadays there are feedback devices available that you can use. A feedback device makes it possible for you to hear exactly how your speech sounds. When you begin to hear yourself speaking without stuttering you will have far more success when in a conversation.
Be Realistic But Don’t Give Up!
If you are a person who stutters when speaking, you must always remember that there is nobody in the world who doesn’t make a mistake when speaking. So, when you are working on techniques to stop your stuttering, don’t be disappointed if you still stutter from time to time.
Just keep on practicing and one day you’ll realize that you’ve “tamed” your stuttering problem and can have relaxed conversations with anyone.
How to Stop Stuttering Permanently?
As stuttering generally starts at a very young age, the treatment for it should start as young as possible. In some instances, the stuttering will, unfortunately, never be stopped completely but treatment at any stage to improve speech fluency will build confidence.
Fortunately, in most cases, the stuttering can be stopped permanently with the correct treatment.
The best way of treatment is speech therapy. A speech therapist can teach people with stuttering problem to
- notice when they stutter,
- manage situations that trigger stuttering,
- slow down their speech rhythm, and
- breathe correctly.
Many young people stop stammering after intensive speech therapy sessions.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps people change how they think and then change their behavior accordingly. When applied to stuttering the therapy normally involves:
- educating the person about stuttering
- exercises to extend the length of sounds
- relaxation techniques, including deep breathing
- challenging unhelpful thoughts
Generally, CBT leads to positive changes in attitudes around stuttering and it reduces stuttering-related anxiety.
Speaking in Unison
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, stuttering can completely be stopped if a person follows a therapy schedule of speaking in unison with someone else.
If another person is not available to be the non-stuttering partner, there are electronic devices in the market that simulates the unison speaking scenario.
Although The Stuttering Foundation advises that medication is not effective for the majority of people, some stutterers have been cured by medication prescribed by doctors.
The drugs prescribed are normally medications for anxiety and depression.
Credit to Karolina Grabowska from Pexels for the featured image of this article