Continued: 'King's Speech'
At the USC center, speech pathologists work with patients (ranging from 3-year-olds to people in their 60s) on motor aspects of speech and address the psychological component of stuttering. Teens and adults are strongly recommended to go to a self-help support group to come to terms with stuttering.
Stuttering – or stammering, as the British call it – affects about 1 percent of the population around the world, including about 3 million Americans. It is mostly physiological and often genetic.
“It’s a relatively low-incidence disorder, so people who stutter don’t often meet others who stutter,” Adams said. “When you bring them together, wonderful things can happen.”
Approaches to treatment vary, but the most effective methods combine speech controls with the psychological components by addressing fear and avoidance.
“It involves regaining control over the speech mechanism and dealing with the psychological aspects,” Adams said. “Stuttering is significantly impacted by stress and anxiety. So many people who stutter as children get teased about their speech. They try harder, and that works against them. And the more fearful they become.”
The USC center also works with students on campus who stutter, particularly those close to graduation who are looking ahead to the working world. Job interviews can be most challenging for a person who stutters, he said.
“Stuttering and fear feed each other,” he said. “That’s how it becomes a problem. People can feel like they are set up for a life of struggling, but they don’t have to. My goal for patients is for them to be able to say what they want to say when they want to say it. Stuttering does not have to keep anyone from doing anything.”
That includes becoming the king of England.