National Stuttering Association

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While there is no “cure” for stuttering, there are various options that may help people who stutter. Some methods focus on promoting confident and effective communication, facilitating desensitization to stuttering, practicing mindfulness, modifying speech, and/or exploring stuttering acceptance.  Like any good treatment, help for people who stutter should be tailored to the individual. In other words, what works for one person who stutters may not work for everyone!

There is No Cure for Stuttering

There is no single technique, device, or medication that will cure stuttering. People who continue to stutter through early childhood will likely stutter in some way for the rest of their lives. It is a commonly assumed that stuttering is controllable, but this is incorrect. Research indicates that stuttering is caused by neurophysiological differences in the brain. Although people who stutter may speak differently than people who do not stutter, they are just as capable of being effective communicators.

The Value of Early Intervention

While there is no universally accepted treatment for stuttering, most clinicians would agree that early intervention can help support young children who stutter and their families. When potential stuttering is identified in a young child, they should be referred to an SLP for a comprehensive evaluation.

Research suggests that early intervention programs may influence whether stuttering persists into adulthood. Working with an SLP can help children and caregivers self-advocate as well as cope with any negative reactions and/or avoidance of speaking situations that children may experience. Early intervention can help young children who stutter develop a positive communication attitude and effective communication skills.

Stuttering Modification

While fluency shaping methods center on eliminating stuttering all together, other treatment options focus on limiting its impact. One method, known as stuttering modification[1], involves identifying and adjusting disfluencies when they occur. An SLP using stuttering modification would help a person who stutters reduce their physical tension, overcome their fear of speaking, and utilize tools to monitor their own speech.

Stuttering modification includes education and counseling for the person who stutters, with the goal of decreasing anxiety when speaking. It can also include techniques for changing stuttering moments as they occur—making them shorter and less tense.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments for stuttering (those other than speech therapy) are popular, and while some can be helpful, others are nothing more than digital snake oil. Ranging from motivational courses and vitamins to Botox injections, a 2002 survey conducted by the National Stuttering Association® showed that adults who stutter reported trying an extraordinary variety of treatments. To read more about alternative treatments for stuttering and their reported efficacy, click here.

What Makes Treatment Successful?

Ultimately, the success of any one treatment for a person who stutters depends on their individual goals, feelings, and attitudes toward their stuttering. Many treatment programs utilize a combination of the methods described above.

Most importantly, successful treatment should help people who stutter overcome negative feelings, reduce stress surrounding speaking, participate in activities, and improve their overall quality of life. To that end, an SLP may encourage self-advocacy, incorporate counseling strategies, and promote family training in their treatment of stuttering. Choosing to participate in speech therapy is an important and highly individual decision. As a resource, the NSA® provides basic guidance and links to find a therapist.

Stutter-Affirming Treatment Approaches

These treatment approaches encourage stuttering acceptance, advocacy, and pride by conceptualizing stuttering as an identity rather than a deficit [1]. Stutter-affirming treatment approaches encourage peer-to-peer relationships among children who stutter and may utilize strategies such as self-disclosure, voluntary stuttering, and communication competencies unrelated to speech fluency [2]. Goals may focus on stuttering openly and sharing about stuttering with others rather than attempting to change one’s speech patterns.

Fluency Shaping

Treatment for stuttering that emphasizes reducing disfluent speech is generally known as fluency shaping.[1] To use fluency shaping strategies, a person who stutters would work with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to change the way they speak. The goal of fluency shaping is to eliminate all stuttering events and speak fluently at all times. Some therapies use assistive devices, such as delayed auditory feedback, to assist in this effort.

While delayed auditory feedback and fluency shaping programs may work for some people who stutter, not all find them helpful or easy to maintain over time. With a focus on eliminating stuttering, these methods may overlook underlying emotions and attitudes that contribute to communication difficulties.

Support Groups Help

Stuttering support groups can provide key information, a supportive environment, and community for people who stutter. The advantages of attending a support group include the ability to gain new perspectives on fluency, speak freely without judgement, and help others understand their stuttering[2]. Many people who attend support groups or the NSA’s Annual Conference report increased confidence when speaking and comfort in feeling they are not alone. To find a support group in your area, click here.

[1] Medina, A. M., Almeida, N., Amarante, K., Martinez, N., & Prezzemolo, M. (2020). Adults Who Stutter and Their Motivation for Attending Stuttering Support Groups: A Pilot Study. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups5(1), 142-154.

[2] Constantino, C. D. (2023). Fostering positive stuttering identities using stutter-affirming therapy. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 54(1), 42–62. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_LSHSS-22-00038

[3] Byrd, C. T., Winters, K. L., Young, M., Werle, D., Croft, R. L., Hampton, E., Coalson, G., White, A., & Gkalitsiou, Z. (2021). The communication benefits of participation in Camp Dream. Speak. Live.: An extension and replication. Seminars in Speech and Language, 42(2), 117–135. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0041-1723843

Original material provided by: Leslee Dean, M.A. in Latin American Studies, MS-SLP student at Florida International University and Angela M. Medina, Ph.D., CCC-SLP. Revisions provided (01.2024) by Caitlin Franchini, MS, CCC-SLP and Megan M. Young, ABD, CCC-SLP.