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Week-Long Speech Therapy May Improve Stuttering

Study Shows Brain Changes After Speech Therapy

Who Stutters? continued...

Other speech therapies are also helpful in teaching people how to pull themselves out when they begin to stutter, and fluency-shaping encourages slow speech with stretched-out vowel sounds to reduce stuttering.

Stuttering is a real problem marked by real brain changes as evidenced by the study, says American Academy of Neurology member Jeffrey Buchhalter, MD. He is a pediatric neurologist in Phoenix, Ariz. "There is also a way of measuring an intervention to see if it works. This is very exciting."

Parents of younger children who are concerned about their child's language developments should talk to the child's pediatrician or primary care provider. "Find out who is the expert on stuttering in your town," he says.

It may be a pediatric neurologist or a speech pathologist such as Melissa Wexler Gurfein. She is a speech language pathologist in private practice in New York City.

Stuttering is not always a chronic problem, she says. "Typically children between ages 2 and 6 will stutter. This is normal and is more prevalent among boys," she says. "If you are concerned, schedule an evaluation so a therapist can see how frequently it is occurring." Treatments exist, and vary based on age.

Christian A. Kell, MD, of Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, wrote an editorial accompanying the study, and he also stresses that help is out there.

He tells WebMD, by email, that "people who stutter should invest time in good therapy programs. There are lots of efficient speech therapy programs available that all focus on different aspects (breathing, way of speaking, rhythm, speech melody, speed) and change the way a person speaks."

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