Friday, November 9, 2007
Medical Reports: Stuttering
Each day is a struggle to speak for three million Americans who suffer from stuttering. Doctors still haven't been able to find a cure or cause for the disorder, but, in today's Healthcast, Seven's Christine Cruz shows us how many patients are regaining control over their speech and confidence.
WSVN -- Retired public broadcasting CEO Stephen McKenney Steck knows a thing or two about perseverance.
Stephen McKenney Steck: "Sports-wise, I've completed two of my goals, which was to run a marathon and complete a marathon in every state in the union.
For Stephen, running 50 marathons seemed easy compared to overcoming his biggest obstacle, stuttering. He used to sound like this ...
Stephen McKenney Steck: "Hello, my name is St-St-Stephen McKenney St-St-St-Steck."
At age 53, he met speech therapist Charlie Osborne, who uses a new kind of therapy to help stutterers.
Charlie Osborne: "We don't have a cure for stuttering, but we can help a person who stutters become a more effective communicator."
Instead of encouraging patients to replace problem words with simpler ones, Osborne teaches them to mentally identify the breaks between syllables in words.
Charlie Osborne: "Let's use the boundary. I just put a break between the N and the D boundary. You don't have enough cognitive space to worry about where you are going to put a break in and worry about where you are going to stutter."
Patients are also taught to chunk words together to create fluent speech like this ...
Student: "The secretary took down the notes."
Stephen McKenney Steck: "Fifteen years ago, I could not imagine speaking to you tonight."
After 15 years of therapy, Stephen was able to deliver a stutter-free speech to 300 people, but the battle isn't over yet.
Stephen McKenney Steck: "There's never an opportunity when I can say, 'Hey, I've crossed the finish line. I'll never stutter again.'"
Just as Stephen's marathons require constant training, his stutter-free speech requires constant practice.
Christine Cruz: "Adults are the best candidates for this new therapy. While the treatment is effective, patients must practice regularly in order to remain stutter-free."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact: Charlie Osborne, M.A., CCC-SLP
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
School of Communicative Disorders