1. What is stammering?
It is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person is unable to produce sounds.
2. The impact of stammering or stuttering on a person's functioning and emotional state can be severe. Much of this goes unnoticed by the listener, and may include fears of having to start specific vowels or consonants, fears of being caught stuttering in social situations, self-imposed isolation, anxiety, stress, shame, or a feeling of "loss of control" during speech.
3. It is sometimes popularly associated with anxiety, low self-esteem, nervousness, and stress.
4. The disorder is variable, which means that in certain situations, such as talking on the telephone, it might be more severe or less, depending on the anxiety level connected with that activity.
a. Metabolic – it’s a genetic form.
b. Developmental- beginning in early childhood and continuing into adulthood. The rate of early recovery is very high.
c. Acquired- In rare cases, may be acquired in adulthood as the result of a neurological event such as a head injury, tumour, stroke or drug use. It tends to be limited to part-word or sound repetitions, and is associated with a relative lack of anxiety and secondary stuttering behaviors.
d. Psychogenic or Psychological Pain induced stammering/stuttering- may arise after a traumatic experience such as a bereavement, the breakup of a relationship or generalized anxiety disorder. It’s of sudden onset and associated with a significant event, it is constant and uninfluenced by different speaking situations, and there is little awareness or concern shown by the speaker
6. How to Treat it?
Various treatment modalities include:
a. Speech therapy- the focus is on treatment like :
i. Fluency shaping therapy
ii. Stuttering modification therapy
iii. Electronic fluency devices
b. Medications- effective in cases of neuro-psychiatric origin.
Long term use of medications like benzodiazepines, anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, antipsychotic and antihypertensive medications
c. Support groups and the self-help movement – a corner stone in helping people with the problem unite, share experiences and spread the message of the same.