Stuttering is one of the primary focus areas at speech IRL. We believe strongly in a "whole person" approach to therapy, targeting not only your physical speech but also how it affects your life overall. Stuttering therapy at speech IRL involves lots of role-playing and environment-based activities to ensure you can manage your speech even in the most challenging situations.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by interruptions or stoppages in the smooth flow of speech. These interruptions, or disfluencies, may include repetition of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases. Stuttering may also include holding sounds for a long time ("Mmmmmmy nnnnname is..."). Many people who stutter also experience blocks, a total stoppage of speech and airflow that feels like the word is "stuck".
Stuttering may be accompanied by secondary behaviors, which are physical movements that occur during a stutter. These can range from small movements like blinking to very large movements such as moving the hands, feet, or head.
Stuttering can have a serious impact on a speaker's social-emotional well-being. If you find yourself avoiding certain words, situations, or conversational encounters because you worry about stuttering, speech therapy can help improve your speech and increase your overall speaking confidence.
What happens in stuttering therapy?
The first speech therapy session will be an complete evaluation of your speech. The speech pathologist will ask you to perform a variety of speaking-based tasks and record a speech sample. The speech sample will then be analyzed to determine your patterns. A thorough evaluation also includes discussion of how your stuttering is impacting your life overall, and what your general communication goals are. speech IRL uses both quantitative and qualitative measures to assess your speech pattern and the life impact of your stutter.
Stuttering therapy is highly customized to the individual and their goals. You will learn some basic techniques to gain more control and manage your stutter. Once you are comfortable with the techniques, role-playing and real-life simulation are a key component of therapy at speech IRL, which allow you to practice using techniques in real-life situations. These simulation activities also aim at reducing fear, anxiety, and avoidance so that you can be more confident when speaking.
How long does therapy take?
Therapy can last for months to years, depending on the person and their goals. Some people find that a few sessions are enough to gain the tools and confidence they need to achieve their goals on their own. Others like having a long-term speech "coach" who is available as challenges arise. The length of the program entirely depends on what you need and what you want to achieve.
Will therapy cure my stutter?
There is no "cure" for stuttering. The goal of speech therapy at speech IRL is to help you manage your stutter better and gain confidence in speaking situations. For many people, developing stutter management skills does lead to increased fluency. Some people are able to achieve fluent or near-fluent speech, but this may not be a realistic goal for everyone. Fluency goals are discussed in-depth during the initial evaluation.