Every person with a stammer wants to know the ultimate cure. “How to overcome a stammer” is typed into a search engine, and up pops a variety of results, all with different methodologies, and next to no verifiable evidence that the program will work effectively.
Why no stammering cures are guaranteed
Okay, you might get some with a satisfaction guarantee or your money back, but you will never find a speech correction program with a guarantee that you’ll be able to get rid of your stammer. It just won’t happen because you can try every method under the sun and still be left stammering your way through life.
Empty promises are everywhere so to understand why you can’t approach this with a quick fix solution mindset you need to understand what’s really causing the problem.
It’s your brain
Forget all those idiots that tell you your stammer is a choice. If it was a choice, there would be nobody with a stammering problem anywhere in the world. The fact that there are thousands in every corner of the world is a good thing because those are people for the scientific community to work with and explore the cause of the problem.
Advancements in technology have made it possible for MRIs to be used by exploring sample groups of those with a stammer to compare to those who do not. Thanks to those advancements, experts in speech pathology now know that there is a link to how the brain works between different focus groups.
Specifically between the left hemisphere of the brain and parietal lobes, which are at the centre of your brain.
The left needs to communicate with other areas of your brain to tell your mouth what to say and how. The thinking part of the brain needs to use the neurons to communicate to the executional part that causes your mouth to say what you thought about saying. Those with a stammer have more activity on the left side of the brain, meaning they think more about what they’re going to say than the action part of the brain that causes them to say it how they do. The right side of the brain becomes more active, trying to compensate for the disproportionate activity.
There’s nothing you can do about how your brain works, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about your stammer. Since research shows it is a communication problem within the various parts of the brain, you need to focus on improving that.
You can influence your brain activity
If you couldn’t influence brain activity, there wouldn’t be actors with successful careers, and world influencers able to have taken to the podium and deliver world changing speeches.
It is possible, but you need to know how to approach the fix.
Deciding on a method to achieve better speech
Out of all the methods to shape how you speak, you can narrow them down to two categories:
1. Manage the stutter
2. Shape your fluency
That’s it. The first method of stammer management is all about controlling your speech. Some are designed to teach you to stammer on purpose, while others will focus on breathing techniques and slow deliberate speaking. The aim is to slow the brain activity down giving you more time to speak in a deliberate and controlled manner, which sometimes means accepting the stammer will happen and not avoiding it. When you try to avoid it, your anxiety increases and it just makes it worse.
The main difference with this management approach is that it will address emotional factors and will not solely focus on eradicating the problem completely.
The second is fluency shaping and this takes emotion out the equation, and focuses on not the stammer but speaking fluently without it.
What model will for work for you?
None of them; to get the best chance of beating a stammer, you’d be best to focus on both types. One aspect should focus on the emotions driving the stammer, and the other having the goal of achieving fluency. It’s going to be next to impossible to achieve fluency by ignoring the cause of the problem. What you’re doing with any form of speech correction is influencing your brain activity. Your brain is responsible for the emotions you feel when you speak, and how you feel after getting the words out, whatever way they come out be it with a stammer or without.
This is the integrative approach to stammering, for which you use intervention and acknowledgement to progress towards improved speech.
Any claimed expert, or program you decide to do some research on, figure out what approach they are using. Methods with the highest success rate focus on progression towards fluency and integrate emotional factors into the program. If you ignore the emotions you feel when you speak, you’ll essentially become an actor, requiring you to put on a façade when you speak. That will drain your energy and make you feel like a fraud, which is highly unlikely to influence your speech in a positive way.
Some people will have some success with either one of the approaches, but to stand the highest chance, it’s best to come up with a winning strategy by combining the two techniques.