The various treatments for stuttering depend on the age of the patient and the severity of the condition. Many children who stutter grow out of the condition and never need specific treatment. If stuttering persists, the most common overall treatment is speech therapy combined with the avoidance of conditions or situations that aggravate stuttering.
One of the best regular treatments for stuttering is to manage stress and demonstrate patience when speech is difficult. It is usually best to simply avoid any social event that could be stressful for the individual. Speaking to the patient in a relaxed manner and encouraging them to do likewise can also help to reduce stress. It is also important to acknowledge the condition, particularly when the patient is experiencing frustration, while being careful not to put too much emphasis on it at the same time.
The most common treatments for stuttering address both the physical and emotional aspects of stuttering. Many speech therapists will train a patient to focus on each word, to speak slowly, and to adopt breathing techniques to reduce stress and calm the body overall. A patient may also be encouraged to take a progressive approach to building speaking ability, starting with the mastery of one syllable words and advancing to multiple syllables as confidence builds.
If stuttering develops in early childhood — approximately between the ages of three and five — it will often disappear on its own. It is important not to put too much emphasis on early stuttering, as this can cause the child stress and worsen the condition. If stuttering occurs on a regular basis for several months, speech therapy is typically advised. One of the most effective treatments for early childhood stuttering involves a combination of language development skills and techniques for building confidence and reducing stress. Important caregivers in the child’s life are usually heavily involved with this therapy as they must be trained to react and support the child properly.
When stuttering lasts beyond early childhood, or appears after a child is about eight years old, there is a stronger possibility that it will last into adulthood. Speech therapy for older patients who have the condition focuses less on language development and more on progressively building physical and mental skill to handle increasingly complex words and phrases. Treatments for stuttering in older patients may focus more on lessening anxiety as they tend to be more self-aware than children.