I feel stressed when I talk, and I tend to stutter, even when I am at home or with my friends…. I always have to be careful which words I say because I have learned that there are words I can always say without stuttering. This is my daily struggle.
I am fed up with this! At work I am required to do a lot of public speaking, and it is a struggle for me even if my friends don’t notice. I would like for you to give me a word of advice so I can know what to do…
Congratulations! The fact that you have shared your problem with us shows that you are ready to start taking positive steps to change this frustrating aspect of your life. But what can you do?
First of all, it would be helpful for you to find out as much as you can about stuttering. For example, stuttering is not a physical or a psychological abnormality. There are a variety of causes of stuttering in adults, but knowing the cause doesn’t solve the problem. What we do need to know is that the more you try to control your stuttering on your own, the worse it will probably get. When you put thoughtful effort into exercising control of your speech, you make yourself anxious. The anxiety produces more frequent stuttering, which in turn produces more anxiety. It is a vicious circle which cannot usually be controlled without help.
The best option would be to consult a speech and language therapist. These are professionals who are trained in the most current therapies for stuttering. Many people do not have the financial resources to pay for therapy, but it is covered by some insurance plans. Or, if there is a university nearby where speech therapists are trained, you may be able to get a referral from that institution for low or no‑cost programs or groups. Write letters, send emails, and do research on the Internet until you find an organization that can help you.
Some medications have the positive effect of reducing the amount of stuttering, while others have side effects which can make it worse. This is something that you need to discuss with your medical doctor.
There are adults who have found that they can reduce stuttering by talking about their problem with their friends. When it is no longer a secret, their anxiety is relieved and their stuttering is thereby reduced. That causes them to worry less, and the stuttering is relieved even more. This has happened with one of our sons, who is an adult stutterer.
The patriarch Moses had some kind of speech impediment,1 but is that what we all remember most about him? No, we remember that he was the great leader who led his people out of slavery in Egypt. God helped Moses and used him in spite of his difficulties, and God wants to do the same for you. Why don’t you pray right now and ask for God to be with you as you begin your search for relief from this frustrating part of your life?
Don’t lose hope!
Linda and Charles
1 Ex 4:10‑11