Stuttering is a disability that affects verbal communication – particularly the rhythm or flow of the communication. The individual who stutters knows exactly what they want to say, but at that very second they cannot get the words out in the way they would like. Stuttering can take the form of word repetitions, prolongations or a full speech block. In adolescent and adult cases, a further symptom can be heightened anxiety about speaking situations where remaining fluent is more important than in normal speaking situations. For example, introductions, job interviews or giving a speech. Today there are a number of programmes available for stuttering. These programmes can be most effective in treating preschool children, however programmes for adolescents and adults generally focus more on managing the stuttering rather than totally curing it.
The roles of the Australian Speak Easy Association include;
- to provide information about therapy options
- to support people who stutter before, during and after therapy
- to enable accessibility to state support groups and social functions
- to provide services and resources to keep members informed, including national newsletters and library services
- to encourage, facilitate and coordinate (in collaboration with Speech Pathology professionals) Community Education programmes about stuttering
Treatments provided by Speech Pathologists
Lidcombe Programme – Children
This is a speech pathology treatment for preschool age children who stutter. Extensive research has shown it to be effective if conducted within the preschool years. Parent and child attend the speech clinic once a week and the speech pathologist shows the parent how to conduct the treatment at home. The speech pathologist checks the child’s progress each week and adjusts the treatment as required. While many children recover from stuttering naturally, waiting to see if this occurs can jeopardise the child’s responsiveness to the programme. Thus it is wise to have a child assessed by a qualified speech pathologist as soon as practicable after stuttering begins. Together, the speech pathologist and the parent decide whether to start treatment immediately, or whether to wait for some period and actively monitor the stuttering to see whether or not it is improving. For more information see the website of The Australian Stuttering Research Centre at: http://www.fhs.usyd.edu.au/asrc
Smooth Speech Treatment – Adolescents and Adults
This is the evidence based best practice treatment most commonly conducted by the Speech Pathology profession in Australia. For some individuals it can be taught on a one to one, weekly visit basis. For the majority of people who stutter, however, it is usually taught in an intensive environment where a group of individuals are brought together for treatment. The intensive Smooth Speech programmes are generally conducted over one full week with weekly follow-ups for a period after the initial treatment. The programmes are generally taught in a speech pathology clinic that specialises in stuttering treatment and often by speech pathology students under the supervision of an experienced speech pathologist. Smooth Speech has been used as a successful treatment in Australia for nearly 40 years so it is the technique used by the majority of our members who attend our support group meetings. These meetings function to assist members to improve and maintain their skills in a supportive and friendly environment where they can practise and improve their speech and communication skills.
For information on where this type of treatment can be access see below:
The McGuire Programme – Adolescents and Adults
The McGuire Programme is an international programme and has been operating in all parts of Australia since 1996. It has had extensive television coverage and has provided programmes for over 1,200 people with speech dysfluencies ranging in age from 12 to 85. In some circles the programme is seen as somewhat controversial as it has not yet had formal scientific research into its effectiveness. The programme is administered, instructed and coached by people who have substantially recovered from their stuttering or who are in the process of recovering. The programme offers a life-time membership with access to ongoing coaching and support. The initial 4-day live-in intensive stuttering course is part of the life-time membership. This is in recognition of the programme’s philosophy that overcoming stuttering, no matter how severe the stutter, is a long-term process involving changes to the “system” that is you. That is, the McGuire approach is based on the belief that in an adult, stuttering has less to do with speech but rather more to do with how we perceive ourselves in relationship to people and the world around us. The recovery process begins with the 4-day intensive course and is supported by frequent 4-day refreshers for as long as required.
The course teaches a breathing technique as the basis of its speech retraining but also provides training in areas such as assertiveness training, voice projection, speech making and discovering strategies for psychologically coming to terms with many of the issues surrounding stuttering behaviour. Participants also have access to ongoing coaching and an organised maintenance programme, as well as access to repeat programmes as required. The programme’s focus is very much on long-term recovery from stuttering by changing perceptions and beliefs about our speaking capabilities. Because it is a privately run programme and therefore self-funded, its cost tends to be more than treatment programmes run by speech pathologists. Interested people should make their own enquiries to determine who will offer the experience and support to best suit their needs.
Ezy-Speech – Adolescents and Adults
Ezy-Speech is an in-home stuttering therapy program offering fluency and cognitive training for adolescents and adults. It is the brainchild of recovering stutterers and specialist clinicians. This new, state-of-the-art program is recorded in DVD format. It offers adults who stutter an intensive training course in the technique of Ezy-Speech. The technique has its foundations in the original system of prolonged speech. This system has been enhanced by placing more emphasis on the breathing method and on psychological aspects, including transition to everyday speech. It is targeted towards the whole person and not just the physical stutter. According to the developers, the course is yours forever and available whenever you want to brush up on technique and boost your fluency. There is also an eight-minute mini booster designed to help you maintain technique on a daily basis. This is included on the DVD.
Formed in Australia by a Doctor of Philosophy (Speech Pathology), a Psychologist and two recovering stutterers with over 30 years experience in running weekly fluency workshops and booster weekends, this complete program is offered to people worldwide. The developers claim that Ezy-Speech offers a support-for-life treatment package and maintenance system with ongoing support for stutterers around the world.
Disclaimer: The programs described above are for information only and describe some of the programs the Australia Speak Easy Association (ASEA) is aware of. Their inclusion on this page does not necessarily indicate the endorsement of these programs by the ASEA. Stuttering can be a difficult disorder to treat at all ages so it cannot be guaranteed that any of the above programs will give the results required by each individual. Success depends, to a great extent, on the initial severity of the stuttering symptoms, what the person’s feelings are about the stuttering, the level to which the individual embraces the skills taught to them and the degree to which they are able to implement those skills and strategies in their daily life. For many adults, acceptance of a level of dysfluency can be an acceptable compromise but ultimately it is up to the individual.