Why do I stutter when I speak

Self-help - What stutterers can do about the fear of speech impairment

What can make stutterer, the fear of speech impediment

Stuttering can hit the psyche. For fear of embarrassment, many suppress their flow disorders. A visit to the self-help group.

Everyone is waiting for their first words. The blonde woman stands quietly, puts her hands over her stomach and takes a deep breath. Then she starts talking. She doesn't speak too quickly or too slowly. Your words are stressed, not mechanical, but conscious. Your gestures support the short lecture on sound formation. It is almost unimaginable that a few years ago she hardly managed to utter a sentence without stuttering. After her lecture, the woman, who is only known here by the name Erika, sits down with the other participants in the Versta self-help group (Association for Stutterers and Relatives) in Olten.

Erika has just successfully overcome a language cliff and has not avoided it. Because: Nobody stutters in a quiet room alone. But talking under stress leads to a stuttering attack for many stutterers even after years of therapy or to resorting to words that come out more easily.

4 times

more boys than girls tend to stutter. More than half of stuttering children get rid of their fluency by the time they reach puberty. Around 80,000 people stutter in Switzerland, around 1 percent of the population.

Our speaking is a masterpiece of neuromotor coordination: just to pronounce the letter "A", 160 muscles have to move in milliseconds. But this coordination is a problem for the 80,000 or so stutterers in Switzerland. The triggers and symptoms vary from person to person. Most of them have stuttered since childhood. Four times more boys than girls are affected by the flow disorder. Some drag letters out, others repeat individual letters and still others have a blockage in the middle of the word. Many listeners still subconsciously draw the fallacy that people who do not speak fluently cannot think clearly either.

Tips for stutterers from stuttering YouTuber P. Lechner:

A prejudice that annoys Wolfgang Braun, lecturer at the University of Curative Education in Zurich. “The cause of stuttering is mostly organic, not psychological, as was long thought,” he says. For fear of embarrassing yourself in the next sentence, however, mental problems can develop in the case of stuttering: for example, fear of speaking situations, shame or insecurity. That is why many withdraw or avoid “dangerous” letters.

For some, “B” can be a dangerous letter, for example they say “fir” instead of “tree”. For the others it is «G», «E» or any other letter. So it becomes more and more difficult to carry out the avoidance strategy. "Your own name is the worst hurdle for many stutterers," says Beat Meichtry, evening leader of the self-help group. Because with this it is impossible to evade.

Talking should be fun

"The aim of this evening that the participants are not blocked with fear, but again fun at the language," says Meichtry. That is why the group evening begins with an aperitif and small talk. Those present tell of their experiences with the most diverse therapeutic approaches that they have had behind them. Tobias, for example, was given a kind of tutoring at school together with children with learning difficulties. He understood the school material well, but couldn't express himself as fluently as his classmates.

In addition to these tutoring sessions, his parents drove him through half of Switzerland to see other therapists. At some point he refused to take part in further therapy sessions. It was only when his boss approached him about the speech disorder two years ago that he decided to try again. “You have to want it yourself, otherwise you won't get any further,” he says in retrospect. He was in his late twenties when he finally went to a Versta meeting and realized for the first time that others stutter too.

Advice and seminars

Versta, the association for stutterers and their relatives, was founded in 1987. It offers advice, seminars and the exchange of experiences for those affected in several Swiss cities. The contact point is sometimes financed by federal funds. The goal of Versta’s method is to regain the joy of free language without changing the way you speak. To do this, the fear of expectation before speaking must be balanced.

Breathing serves as an indication of tension that makes natural speech impossible. Because: Breathing inhibition can lead to speech inhibition and this in turn to fear of failure when speaking. “The fear of stumbling blocks must be replaced by good experiences and fun with the language,” says Beat Meichtry. He speaks from his own experience. Until 28 he was considered therapy-resistant himself. That was decades ago, today he enjoys the free language and runs the Versta office.

Breathing as a therapeutic approach

The curative education teacher and lecturer Wolfgang Braun says that breathing is a therapeutic approach that can be pursued. But basically everyone has to be treated individually. For some, stretching vowels helps, others with bound speech. In the latter case, the words are connected within an exhalation phase, so that the speech organs, such as the lips and tongue, are constantly in motion. "In recent years, many new therapies have been developed for stutterers and published," he says. Today a lot of emphasis is placed on the early detection of flow disorders. "The earlier you treat the children, the better the chances of recovery," says Braun. The participants in the Versta self-help group were not yet able to benefit from the new findings in their youth.

“I stuttered more this week,” says Tobias in the assessment session after the aperitif. "Then I just slept more and paid more attention to my breathing again." It was probably due to the spring tiredness.

Relapses are normal

Even after courses and many years of practice, relapses are a part of it. However, the participants seem to take this sporty. When a participant begins to stutter during the evening, nobody interrupts him. It only takes a moment and he has recovered and finishes the sentence.

"I hate it when someone finishes my sentence," says Tobias. Then he feels totally constricted. Stutterers want to be treated like normal interlocutors. They should only be given a little time.

For the next exercise everyone stands in a circle and reads preprinted sentences. "What are you doing here anyway?" Erika reads apparently horrified and throws her hands away. "I have to go home now," replies Tobias, turning on his heel. Both laugh. Granted, the gestures and emphasis are exaggerated. But talking should be fun.