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Fluency Shaping Techniques & Strategies for Stuttering

"Great is the admiration of the orator who speaks with fluency and discretion." Fluency in speaking is one of the most sought-after skills in people, with people oftentimes pushing themselves to ensure that they can be as fluent as possible. Unfortunately, with early-onset stuttering, it can become hard to practice fluency. There are some stuttering modifications that can take place that will help you, and certain methods such as the cancellation stuttering technique that can help you out. In this blog, we will find out about these things.


What is stuttering?


Stuttering, according to the dictionary, claims that it is a speech disorder involving frequent problems with the normal fluency and flow of speech, however, it is so much more than just this.


Stuttering Modification Techniques


First, let's answer a vital question, that is, what are stuttering modification techniques? A stuttering modification technique is one that allows you to modify and overcome your stutter. There are many different kinds of them, and the one that will particularly be focused on is Fluency shaping. Now what exactly is that?


What is Fluency Shaping?


Fluency shaping is a stuttering modification technique that allows one to replace a stuttered speech with a fluent one. It may not necessarily work for everyone as not every stutter can be cured, however, Fluency strategies for stuttering are often used to ensure that there is as little of a stutter as possible, and it is recommended to implement them at as early of an age as possible. This is because early onset stuttering is easier to be cured and worked through when compared to stutters that start later on. So what's the difference between these two?


fluency shaping vs stuttering modification


So what is the difference between stuttering modification and fluency shaping? It can easily be put into a few points. The points being:


  1. Involves working directly with stuttering: where fluency works not just with the stutter, but also with the clients breathing, voice production and articulation, stuttering modification strategies work primarily on the stutter, by helping the client increase awareness of their own condition, examining and reduce physical tension, and at the end, reduce stuttering.

  2. Stuttering modification was developed in the 1930s, whereas fluency shaping was developed in the 1970s.

  3. Stuttering modification was developed as a way to ensure that the client/patient was able to stutter more easily, making it better for them to be able to relax their vocal cords. It can be thought of as a stepping stone to fluency shaping.


So how are they similar?


There are many ways in which they are alike, in that they both help in the reduction of negative reactions and can help prevent the development of them, increase feelings of confidence and control, and decrease sensitivity about stuttering and insecurities regarding it.


What are some fluency strategies for stuttering?


There are many fluency strategies for stuttering out there, such as Slowed speech, Diaphragmatic Breathing, Light Articulatory Contact, Gentle Initiation Technique, Passive Airflow Technique, Continuous Phonation, etc. So what are these techniques? How do we practice them?


Slowed Speech: slowed speech technique is mastering the art of enunciating every syllable and word perfectly. Typically you should start with 40-60 syllables per minute.


You can practice it by breaking words down, stretching each syllable out and so on. It cannot be mastered without a speech therapist. After a while they may bump you up to 150 syllables per minute, and that will take some time to get used to as well.


Diaphragmatic Breathing: This strategy essentially teaches people with stutters how to breathe properly, to ensure that their vocal muscles can get used to the strain of speaking fluently. Again, this cannot be done without a speech therapist present and showing you the ropes.


It's typically done with a speech therapist showing you how to lie down and where to place your hands and when to breathe in.


Light Articulatory Contact: This exercise is to help you with pronouncing words wherein your lips come into contact, such as butter, which might be hard to overcome a stutter through. There are certain steps which must be followed in order to be able to practice this. They are listed here:


  1. Identify the Articulator that is causing the problem.

  2. Feel how your mouth pronounces it and see where it's going wrong.

  3. Make the slightest touch possible at it and then continue with the word.


Gentle Initiation Technique: One of the main causes behind stuttering is tension on the vocal muscles. This technique helps ensure that the tension reduces, alongside with helping them come together in perfect harmony, by gently initiating them and helping them start slowly rather than quickly. Think of it as warming them up for talking.


It is done with a speech therapist who tells you to initiate your speech slowly and steadily, ensuring that you don't stretch your cords, at as low of a volume as possible, before continuing to progressively become louder and clearer, until you get to a pace which is normal for you.


Passive Airflow Technique: In order to be able to master this and be good at it, you have to know the above techniques. Thus, it becomes a technique which requires a lot of effort and is not a beginner one. It helps ease fluency and maintain airflow in a regulated manner.


Its done with the help of a speech therapist, who tells you to take in a deep breath, before proceeding to speak slowly using it. It is much more complex, but this is the basic idea behind it.


Continuous Phonation: Derived from singing training, it helps ensure that your speech is smooth and effortless. It requires heavy practice, and the usage of all the above techniques, and is one of the most advanced methods used by speech therapists.


What are some Speech Modification Techniques?


As with fluency shaping techniques, there are many techniques out there that help with speech modification. Speech modification is often a way of ensuring that the patient feels more confident within themselves, as well as with their stutter. There are many out there, such as Voluntary stuttering, Bouncing and Cancellation. Let's elaborate on them.


Voluntary stuttering: This form of treatment is used by speech therapists in order to help their patients be more open to their stutter and more confident about it. It also gets the vocal cords used to stuttering and talking without one.


Bouncing: Bouncing is the repetition of certain syllables, so for example, instead of saying b-b-ball, it would be ba-ba-ball. The bouncing of these syllables helps get the mouth used to them, causing them to make it easier later on for the patient.


Cancellation: Cancellation techniques help bring awareness to the fact that the patient is stuttering, and once that is brought on, how to stop it.


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