Stuttering people are not stupid

Speech therapies can help control stuttering

According to estimates by the federal association "Stutterer Self Help", over 800,000 people in Germany are affected by stuttering. In many cases, those affected are labeled "stupid" by their environment and therefore often not taken for full. Promising therapeutic approaches can help people to reduce stuttering. Deliberate stuttering or stretching the syllables are some treatments that can help those affected.

Stuttering accompanied by ups and downs Those who suffer from stuttering are affected by a disturbance in the flow of speech. When speaking, there are often interruptions in the process that are characterized by repetitions of syllables, sounds or words. The speech disorder is often situation-dependent, which means that low-symptom periods alternate with symptom-intensive times. So inner restlessness, nervousness or being excited can help to intensify the stuttering.

Stutterers are exposed to unpleasant environmental misjudgments. According to the experience of the self-help association, many people exclude those affected and consider them “stupid” or “simply structured”. “There is stigmatization of the stutterer as stupid,” reports Martin Sommer, neuroscientist and chairman of the Federal Stuttering Self-Help Association.

This Monday is the "World Stuttering Day" initiated by self-help associations and initiatives. According to current estimates, almost a million people (over 800,000) suffer from speech and speech disorder. However, numerous therapies can help get stuttering under control.

The diagnosis "stuttering" is made according to "ICD-10 [8]" if typical symptoms "silent or audible blockages", rapid repetitions of syllables and words, lengthening of sounds and / or "repeated sounds inserted in between longer than two seconds" occur . The speech disorder must persist for more than three months.

Only a few fight back, says the neuroscientist at the Göttingen University Hospital. They would “often make life difficult for themselves”. “I believe that many stutterers discriminate against themselves. Few actively take action against it themselves. ” Some prefer to retreat according to the motto: "The simplest thing against stuttering is to just keep your mouth shut". Therefore, many only choose the therapy route when the language disorder threatens the life perspective. When the exam is coming up and job interviews could follow, therapists suddenly get a lot of attention. "We see the problem in every major city." Complete healing in adulthood is often not possible. But how to deal with the speech disorder can be learned. Sommer says, "suffering from stuttering can be alleviated easily".

Learning to control stuttering One approach to treatment is for stutterers to learn to control speech disorder. During therapy, the patient is taught to stutter consciously instead of spontaneously. This creates a kind of control over stuttering. Some research suggests that the dropouts are produced in the left frontal lobe of the front brain.

Another form of treatment relies on rhythmic speaking. Stuttering patients should learn to pronounce the words with a special rhythm. If the words are stretched, "normal speaking" arises, explains the expert Sommer, who is himself stuttered and soothed his speech disorder with this therapeutic approach.

Traumatic experiences during school time In everyday life, stutterers are confronted with traumatic experiences. While teasing is often not very pronounced in kindergarten, the school is perceived by many as very traumatic, ”says Sommer. It is not uncommon for those affected to have to hear that their personality is disturbed or "they are just conical types".

Typically, speech disorder occurs in children between the ages of four and six. In many cases this does not mean that stuttering remains. Most "the problem grows out again". Five percent of young children are affected.

Cause of stuttering still unclear Scientists are still in the dark as to exactly how stuttering is triggered in the brain. Some research suggests that disturbances occur spontaneously when the brain transmits signals. This is comparable to an engine that suddenly jerks. Medicine is still researching the exact causes. However, scientists have already localized the origin. The problem is produced in the lower frontal lobes. Others assume that stuttering should be viewed as a result of organic or perceptual disorders. Stuttering can also be a result of psychological or social problems.

Only serious therapies are effective
The internet is full of offers for relief or healing. The federal association of self-help in stuttering warns, however, of the numerous "miracle healers who promise quick healing". Basically, only long-term therapies can achieve effects, which are usually also financed by the statutory health insurance companies.

In everyday situations, many stutterers know how to deal with their speech disorder. If stress or grief occurs, many can no longer control their speech. A classic case is oral presentations or exam situations at school or university. Then it can happen that the contact point in the brain collapses and signals are suspended or even come to a complete standstill. The result is scraps of words and clear interruptions when speaking.

Don't look away or improve sentences How do friends, relatives or colleagues deal with the stuttering of their counterpart? Should the sentence be ended for them, ignored or even interrupted? However, this usually does not help those affected. Kristina Jung from Kassel Stuttering Therapy says the best thing is “to let them finish. To give him the feeling that you are listening to the end. ”Stuttering people are usually very uncomfortable when their conversation partner looks away or improves the sentence on top of that, the expert explains.

In people who stutter, the vocal cords block. During therapy, patients learn to control the voice using a specific speech technique, as the therapeutic director of the institute in Bad Emstal Jung in North Hesse explains. "Stuttering cannot be cured, but you can learn to deal with it".

Computer software can also help Speech therapists have been treating speech disorders like stuttering for over 10 years. Computer programs are also used, with which those affected can practice speaking techniques. There is also an intensive home therapy program for adults via teletherapy. “Every two to three weeks, the clients receive therapy online at home,” reports Jung. This could also help people from Brazil or Kuwait. The therapy then takes place in English. Because affected people not only suffer from the problem in school, but also in adulthood. (sb)

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