It seems no matter where you search for advice about stammering, it’s treated the same as a stutter. It’s particularly problematic on search engines, which they’d all do better to address.
There is a tendency to reference both speech impediments as the same, despite them being, in my understanding different.
Here’s how I differentiate between someone with a stammer and someone with a stutter.
A stutter is when you trip over a letter in a word. When you read about a stutter, you’ll usually see that the author of the piece will use a hyphen to punctuate how the character they are discussing about is affected.
For example, if were to stutter saying my name, it would read…
St-t-ephen struggled saying his name.
A stammer on the other hand is the whole word and not just any letter, which for someone with a stutter could be any amount of consonants.
If I were to stammer when saying my name, it would read like this…
Stephen Stephen struggled saying his name.
With a stammer, the person affected usually finds that on the second repeated word, the speech will slow down. It’s a natural reaction because they’re consciously aware of the repeated word. The same thing happens with a stutter.
So what do you do?
Stammer or stutter?
Regardless what it is, the therapy is often the same, despite those affected requiring a different approach. For a stutter, it certainly helps to practice speaking alone. However, for someone with a stammer, they may fair better practicing breathing exercises combined with slower speech.
When things get super problematic is when there’s another condition affecting the speech. Say for example, someone spoke fluently up until a car accident, which affected the brain. For that, there’s a neurological problem, which is much harder to treat than someone who has developed a speech impediment from a young age, continued with it into adulthood without finding a coping strategy.
This is where many a person will hit the wall of frustration. They’ll search for the ultimate trick to rid a stammer or a stutter, and skip right past the coping strategy.
It helps to first find a way to cope with the speech problem first and then accept it as part of you. When you’re comfortable being you, and speaking regardless of how you sound, it becomes a lot easier trying any variety of techniques to achieve better fluency.
Prior to attempting any form of speech therapy, it’s essential to know how you speak. You need to identify where you hit stumbling blocks, not so you can avoid them, but instead so you can focus on those stumbling blocks rather than to retrain your entire speech.
There’s nobody with a stammer or stutter who can’t speak. That’d eradicate the problem completely so the trick is to learn about how you speak, and one way to start that process is defining your speech problem as being a stammer or a stutter, the latter being the more problematic because it can involve a number of consonants, whereas a stammer – because it’s whole words – it’s usually just a few letters people struggle with.
Because a stammer has letters involved, it’s easier to ignore the problem and workaround it by avoiding words with certain letters. That’s never something you should be doing because it’s not how anyone naturally speaks. The more you’re thinking about the words you don’t want to say, the more letters you’ll find becoming problematic.
Whatever your problem is, identify it first and then narrow your focus to find a coping strategy or training program specifically tailored to what your goals are. It’s often the case, as it was for me, that you have to create your own.
I think that worked well for me because I spent a long time identifying every area I was experiencing troublesome words and letters and used speech repetition until I became fluent.