Stuttering is a communication disorder that affects around 1 percent of the population around the world. Many factors contribute to a stuttering problem, including genetics, another speech disorder, neurophysiology and family dynamics. Stuttering can usually be successfully treated through speech therapy and certain home and lifestyle changes, such as joining a self-help group, creating a relaxed home environment, avoiding criticism and having an understanding attitude toward the stutterer, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Certain exercises may also help.
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Stuttering often increases during times of stress and anxiety. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, regulating your breathing may help reduce stuttering. One simple exercise to try is called diaphragmatic breathing. This breath technique can help you to become calmer and more relaxed, especially if you need to speak in front of an audience or in another situation that makes you nervous. If possible, sit in a quiet room where you'll be undisturbed for a few moments. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Place one hand on your belly and notice how it rises and falls when you inhale and exhale. Deepen your breath and try to make your breathing slow and relaxed. Allow thoughts to flow out of your mind. Practice this technique for five minutes each day.
According to former stutterer T.D. Kehoe in his book, "Speech Language Pathology -- Stuttering," progressive relaxation exercises that focus on relaxing the speech production muscles, such as the lips, tongue, jaw and lungs can help reduce stuttering. Progressive relaxation is best performed while lying down with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths, then focus on your jaw. Clench your jaw tightly for a few seconds, then allow it to relax completely. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth as hard as you can for a few seconds, then allow it to relax completely. Press your lips together for a few seconds, then allow them to relax. Repeat this process four or five times.
Slow Speech Exercise
Practicing what you want to say beforehand can help reduce stuttering, especially if you slow your vowels and relax your breathing, according to Kehoe. Practice saying a few sentences slowly, stretching out the vowels as long as possible. Take deep, slow breaths. Practice in front of a mirror, slowly increasing the speed of your sentences until you are speaking at a normal pace.
Just as with the slow speech exercise, reading exercises can reduce stuttering through slowing your vowels, concentrating on your breathing and trying to relax. Read a paragraph out of your favorite book without placing any pressure or stress on yourself to get it right. Just relax and read, trying to enjoy the process instead of focusing on not stuttering. If you stutter, keep reading and don't blame yourself. Practice reading out loud for half an hour every day.