An estimated 3 million individuals of all ages in the United States stutter. Children between 2 and 6 years of age are the most common group in which stuttering occurs, but that is attributed to the development of language and speech skills. In fact, stuttering affects around 5% to 10% of all children at some point, lasting anywhere from several weeks to several years.
Boys are up to 3 times more likely to stutter than girls and the older they are, the wider the gender gap. Up to four times more boys will continue to stutter than girls although most children eventually outgrow it. Around 75% of children who stutter eventually stop, but the 25% who continue to stutter into adulthood find that it is a lifelong condition that impacts communication.
What is a stutter?
Stuttering is a disorder that affects speech and is probably best known for its characteristic that involves repetition of words, syllables, or sounds. However, “blocks” which are interruptions in speech as well as the prolongation of sounds are also characteristics of stuttering. The person who is stuttering knows what they are trying to say or want to say, but they have difficulty maintaining a normal speech flow.
These disruptions in speech can negatively impact communication with others which in turn impacts interpersonal relationships, job performance, schoolwork, career opportunities, and their quality of life. Treatment can be costly which can further compound the frustration and feelings of isolation.
What causes it
The exact cause of stuttering is not known. It is believed to stem from certain issues with the brain. There are two types of stuttering that are widely recognized:
- Developmental Stuttering – This type of stuttering is the most common and is seen in young children who are just learning language and speech skills. Some experts believe that developmental stuttering occurs when the child’s language and speech skills and abilities are not advanced enough to meet their verbal demands. It also may have a genetic component and run in families.
- Neurogenic Stuttering – This type of stuttering typically after a person sustains some type of brain injury such as head trauma or stroke. Speaking requires the coordination of several regions of the brain and with neurogenic stuttering, there is a disconnect that inhibits or disrupts that coordination.
Stuttering was once believed to be due to emotional trauma, or psychogenic, but doctors have discovered that this often is not the case. Psychogenic stuttering is extremely uncommon.
Overall lack of assistive technologies for people who stutter
Assistive technologies like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google rely on voice commands in order to function. For most people this is not a problem. They speak the words, the device detects them, interprets them, and follows the command. Automated phone interfaces also rely on voice commands in order to function. When a person stutters and tries to use these technologies, the process is not as simple.
The truth is, voice technology is not made for people who have speech difficulties, whether it’s stuttering or something else. If the tech is unable to discern what the user is trying to say, it can’t follow the command. This leads to frustration and discouragement. People who have the most trouble with these voice assistants are those who stutter with blocks.
Text to Speech for people with stutter can help them have more independence by giving them the ability to use programs and devices that are activated and controlled by voice. Products like Speechify can turn text into speech and used to interact easily and seamlessly with voice assistants and activated devices.
Does stuttering affect reading
Stuttering and reading problems often go hand in hand. Research shows that people who stutter have abnormal brain activity that is apparent not only when speaking, but also when listening or reading. One study compared brain activity of 24 adults – 12 who stuttered and 12 who did not. They did brain scans on the individuals in three separate trials within the study:
- Participants listened to sentences
- Participants silently read the sentences
- Participants silently read the sentences while someone else read them aloud
The results were telling. The people who stuttered showed increased activity in the auditory areas when they were listening to the sentences being read. When they were reading, the activity in motor areas (specifically, sequence of movement) of the brain decreased. This indicates that speech processing is impaired because brain circuits are interacting abnormally. This may also explain why stuttering and reading difficulties often go hand in hand.
Stuttering and reading comprehension also seem to be related. Children who are stuttering and learning to read often have a more difficult time because of the neural pathways that are affected.
Can text to speech help? How?
People who are dealing with stuttering and reading fluency have found that test to speech can help with not only improving reading, but also reading comprehension. It allows the person who stutters to hear the text and follow along without putting too much of a burden on the neurological processes that are involved in reading and understanding what you have read.
This is beneficial in the workplace as well as in a school setting as stuttering and reading comprehension homework can cause problems with learning and advancing from grade to grade. It can help make homework much easier and more productive which increases learning and relieves anxiety and frustration.
Voice assistants and voice-controlled devices are also easier to operate with text to speech because the commands can be given directly to the program or device without the barriers created with stuttering. All the person has to do is type the commands and allow the text to speech program to read it for them. It is easy and efficient.
Speechify Text-to-Speech Features
Reading and stuttering don’t have to be such a difficult part of your life. Speechify is one of the top TTS programs on the market with many great reviews. It is very user friendly. Read word docs, PDFs, articles, email, textbooks, magazines, eBooks and more. Whatever you are reading, you can use Speechify’s TTS to hear it.
Speechify will read your text to you or it can highlight the material so you can read along while listening. You can get more out of what you read and understand it better, do more at one time, and get the most out of your time. It can be sped up to read faster or slower, whatever works best for you.
Our AI technology is compatible with any device and can sync across devices. It is easy, convenient and most of all, empowering. You can get more from your reading and work with voice-controlled devices and programs. You don’t have to struggle to read – you can learn to love it.
This blog is does not provide medical advice and should not be used to find medical solutions. If you have a medical condition, please see your doctor for medical advice.
Try Speechify for yourself with our free trial and discover the freedom of reading with text to speech.