Mountainside Hospital Speech Team Supports National Shuttering Awareness Week

May 5, 2011 03:56 PM

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and the second week of May is traditionally designated as National Stuttering Awareness Week, an annual opportunity for professionals in the field of audiology and speech pathology to educate the public. However, this year, the award-winning film, “The King’s Speech,” has heightened awareness of stuttering to a new level – and that’s a positive development for people of all ages who experience the condition known among speech professionals as a “fluency disorder.” 

 

According to Jean Israel, MA, CCC-SLP, who leads the audiology and speech pathology program at MountainsideHospital, while “The King’s Speech” takes some artistic license, it does accurately depict many techniques used to treat adult stuttering. Although the monarch’s unconventional therapist in the film refers to a “cure,” the goal of speech professionals is actually to help their patients become more effective communicators by mastering more controlled fluency.  In fact, comprehensive assistance for stuttering (and all other speech disorders) is available locally at Mountainside where a team of skilled, experienced speech therapists work with patients of all ages.

 

For children six and under, pediatric specialists use the Lidcombe Method, an age appropriate, behaviorally based program that engages both parent and child.  Parents are trained to integrate treatment techniques into common, day-to-day situations to supplement weekly sessions with the speech pathologist and promote consistent improvement.  For children between age six and adolescence, a different set of techniques is used to help increase fluency in everyday communications and parents are educated in ways they can support improvement. 

 

For adolescents and adults, therapy is designed to both increase speech fluency and decrease psychosocial barriers because many older, uncontrolled stutterers develop ways to avoid or hide their condition over time.  “Stuttering can impact educational, social and vocational decisions,” said Israel. “For instance, it’s not uncommon for young people who stutter to refrain from speaking in class even when they know an answer or would like to contribute. Many stutterers suffer from shyness in social situations due to anxiety about speaking with strangers and when it comes time to choose careers, some deliberately seek professions that require limited verbal interaction.”

 

“For teenagers and adults who have had speech therapy at younger ages without success, a fresh start can often improve their communications skills because both stuttering and individual emotions and attitudes about speech tend to change over time,” she said.  A variety of techniques, including diaphragmatic breathing, pacing, bouncing and gliding into words, continuous phonation, a slowed rate of speech and delayed auditory feedback (all of which are featured in “The King’s Speech”)  are used to effectively treat adult stuttering, along with numerous other techniques. 

 

In addition to King George VI whose experience with stuttering was depicted in the Oscar-winning film, there are many other accomplished, famous people who have successfully overcome stuttering according to the Stuttering Foundation of America (stutteringhelp.com) including political leaders like Vice President Joe Biden and Winston Churchill, iconic film stars such as James Earl Jones and Marilyn Monroe and popular television commentators such as John Stossel.  

 

For further information about stuttering treatment for children, adolescences and adults, contact the Mountainside Hospital Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at (973) 429-6011 or  Jean.Israel@mountainsidehosp.com.

 

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