Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A number of treatment approaches are used to treat children and adults who stutter. Treatment for stuttering may be done at home, with a speech-language pathologist or as part of an intensive program. Often, treatment includes a few different approaches. These can include:

  • Controlled fluency. This type of speech therapy teaches you to slow down your speech and learn to notice when you stutter. You may speak very slowly and deliberately when beginning this type of speech therapy, but over time, you'll work up to a more natural speech pattern.
  • Electronic devices. Several electronic devices are available to help people who stutter. They use one of a few methods. One is called delayed auditory feedback, a method that requires you to slow your speech or the speech will sound distorted through the machine. Another method mimics your speech so that it sounds as if you are talking in unison with someone else. Some electronic devices are designed to be worn during daily activities. For example, some are worn in the ear like a hearing aid. Other devices use a headphone connected to a small box that can be carried in a pocket.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of psychological counseling can help you learn to identify and change ways of thinking that might make stuttering worse. It can also help you resolve underlying stress, anxiety or self-esteem problems related to stuttering.
  • Parental involvement. Parental support is a key part of helping a child cope with stuttering. For example, parents can help slow the child's speech patterns and praise the child for speaking fluently.

More intensive treatments for adults who stutter include:

  • Treatment at a hospital or clinic. This type of treatment generally involves attending sessions that range from one to four hours a week over a period of several weeks to months.
  • Intensive programs. Some experts believe the most effective approach to stuttering is an intensive program. The concept is similar to the immersion model of learning a foreign language. Intensive treatment programs generally last two to four weeks and may involve 30 to 100 hours of treatment.

Intensive treatment generally includes exercises to reduce stuttering, opportunities to practice speaking in groups, and learning steps to reduce stress and anxiety associated with stuttering.

Although some medications have been tried for stuttering, no drugs have been proved yet to help the problem.

Sep. 08, 2011