ave you watched the movie “The King’s Speech”? If you have not, it’s based on the true story of King George VI, who had a severe stutter. The King sought help from a speech therapist named Lionel Logue in the 1920’s. Together they worked hard in treatment, and as a result the King succeeded in reducing his stutter. He eventually addressed the nation, delivering a speech that marked a historical moment: Britain declaring war on Germany, later WWII. If you are a teen or adult who stutters, the thought of delivering a speech to anyone, let alone a whole country, might sound impossible! Yet there are adult stuttering treatment approaches that have been researched, with evidence that they reduce stuttering.
Stuttering is Complex!
Speech pathologists know that stuttering is not just about the words that come out of your mouth. Recent research tells us that stuttering can influence a person’s self-identity. It can affect work, friendships, and relationships (Connery, McCurtin, & Robinson, 2019).
Identity– while some people may have come to accept the stutter as part of their identity, many have developed a negative self-image due to their stutter. Your stutter may seem inevitable, but research says otherwise.
Occupations and relationships – communication is important in just about any job. It is through communication that we relate to others. Stuttering can be a barrier to efficient communication and can impact many aspects of daily life.
Reactions of others– negative reactions of others might lead a person who stutters to avoid certain situations.
The negative impact of stuttering on one’s life means that adult stuttering treatment must take a holistic approach. The Camperdown Program is our preferred treatment program. As part of this treatment we measure your anxiety in different situations. We often work in a team with psychologists, to help you address any unhelpful thoughts and beliefs you have about your stuttering.
Here’s a fun fact: Lionel Logue’s methods were never documented (or found) and his exact approaches are not known. They were also probably not researched or based on evidence. So, if you questioned the approaches used in the movie, rest assured, the ones used by speech pathologists today are not the same.
Adult stuttering treatment using the Camperdown Program aims to restructure speech. By that I mean it starts off by teaching slow, exaggerated speech, and eventually reduces stuttering in everyday situations.
Many adults report stuttering to be linked to their emotions; when they are relaxed they stutter less or not at all, and when they are anxious their stuttering becomes worse. The Camperdown Program aims to target stuttering in a variety of contexts and with different communication partners. For example, if you have problems ordering food because it makes you anxious and sends your stuttering through the roof, we will go to the cafe and practice ordering a coffee. Putting therapy into context makes it more fun and helps us to achieve “real life” outcomes.
If you are an adult living with stuttering and our adult stuttering treatment approach sounds like it would be beneficial to you, please reach out. I can tell you more about the services I provide and how I can help you reduce your stutter!
- Connery, A., McCurtin, A., & Robinson, K. (2019). The lived experience of stuttering: a synthesis of qualitative studies with implications for rehabilitation. Disability and rehabilitation, 1-11.
- O’Brian, S., Carey, B., Lowe, R., Onslow, M., Packman, A., & Cream, A. (2018). The Camperdown Program stuttering treatment guide. Retrieved from the University of Technology Sydney website: https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/2018-10/Camperdown%20Program%20Treatment%20Guide%20June%202018.pdf
- Australian Stuttering Research Centre: https://www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/our-research/australian-stuttering-research-centre
Many thanks to Saajida Bhorat, Student Speech Pathologist, for her significant contribution to this article.