As you know and have likely experienced in your own life, well-established habits are difficult to break. As a fully developed adult, if you have grown accustomed to a particular way of speaking, writing or reading, you will likely face numerous challenges if you attempt to change your habits or rectify an incorrect learning technique.
It can be argued that unlearning something is often harder to do later in life than learning something new in the first place. Aside from the challenge of rewiring your brain to think in a different way – a challenge that also exists with learning anything new – unlearning also presents the additional hurdle of trying to forget the incorrect method. In light of these challenges, the importance of early intervention to amend or significantly improve a speech difficulty, such as stuttering, cannot be overstated.
Who Suffers from Speech Disorders?
Speech disorders are equal opportunity disorders; in other words, they can affect people from different backgrounds and of varying social classes. One thing many of these disorders have in common, however, is the early onset of symptoms.
More often than not, stuttering will commence at a young age, and in response to a variety of social and personal learning pressures. As a concerned parent of a child who stutters, you will be relieved to find out that numerous studies have shown that early intervention and treatment can dramatically improve the chances that your child will break free of his/her speech struggle.
The Benefits of Early Intervention
If you’ve seen the film The King’s Speech, you are more likely to identify and agree with this early intervention approach. The film closely follows King George VI of England’s lifelong personal struggle with stammering (British English for ‘stuttering’). The film, which is based on a factual historical account of King George’s life, gives a touching example of how a highly educated person, even one with a royal heritage, struggled with stuttering in a very real and personal way.
The film, which largely addresses the immediacy of seeking treatment and the potential corrective impact of such treatment on treating stuttering, has recently brought much-needed attention to the pertinent issue of speech disorders.
A recently published BBC article, “Who, What, Why: How Do You Overcome a Stammer?”, briefly expounds on the topic of stuttering, in the context of The King’s Speech. The article points to the effectiveness of the early intervention approach to treatment: “Nonetheless, early intervention can effectively cure stammering in many children up to the age of six or seven and it can also speed up natural recovery, says Dr Rosemarie Hayhow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists … Young children aged around three or four stand a very good chance of making a natural recovery, she adds. Early referral allows the stammer to be monitored so the right time to start treatment can be chosen.”
Stuttering is a Physiological Disorder
Research has shown that stuttering is a physiological disorder, and not a psychological one, as most people used to think in the past. Essentially, the problem lies neither in comprehension issues nor in an emotional problem, but in a disconnect between the language-producing part of the brain and the speech muscles which verbalize this language.
The aforementioned article also highlights that the transformative impact of speech therapy depends on the types of treatments used. Only a certified and trained speech- language pathologist can identify trouble spots effectively and increase the chances of using a treatment method that will work with each individual’s learning style. Various treatments may include fluency therapy, slowing the speech rate, and positive reinforcement techniques in the home.
Treatment of Stuttering
If your child is beginning to stutter or experience any combination of speech difficulties, it is up to you as the parent to help your child as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment with a certified speech-language pathologist as soon as possible – preferably at the onset of symptoms – in order to enhance the chances of progress and hopefully, a complete recovery over time, with effective treatment.
Karen George has partnered with a team of speech specialists to provide Chicago families with a personalized treatment plan for stuttering children. Chicago Speech Therapy, LLC takes speech disorders very seriously, and our highly qualified team of experts is here to provide you with the tools you need as a loving parent to help your child triumph over stuttering in the shortest amount of time.