POCATELLO, Idaho - It's stuttering awareness week across the nation, and one professor at Idaho State University said it's important for those who don't stutter to know how to work with those who do.
Stuttering means there is a problem with motor function. Certain signals are not doing what they need to do in order to tell someone to speak fluently and with ease.
"So when we produce speech, our brain has to compute how it's going to move the jaw, the tongue, the lips - everything," said Dr. Dan Hudock, assistant professor and certified speech and language pathologist. "It's a very coordinated and timed mechanism."
Hudock said between 2 and 7 years old, 4 percent of Americans develop stuttering. But 80 percent of those kids stop, meaning there are 3 to 5 million Americans who have chronic stuttering. There are several different kinds, but there are ways to speak more fluently.
"Altering how we hear speech, how we see speech, is going to alter how we produce speech," Hudock said. "It's going to typically increase fluency 60 to 80 percent."
For individuals who stutter, hearing audio feedback of themselves is really helpful for normal communication, whereas people who don't stutter, it's really hard to speak when hearing your words reverberating back at you.
Hudock says there are techniques to easier speaking, like using your hand, along with the delayed audio. Hudock demonstrated speaking without speaking into a microphone that played back his voice.
"If I would switch back to this (microphone)," Hudock said. "I can talk and I'm not using any techniques, and I have a sense of release tension and relaxation."
Hudock says you can help those who stutter feel that same relaxation with just a few simple words.
"'I'm here, can I do anything for you?'" Hudock advised. "That's a great thing, and that immediately shows support, understanding and acceptance, which are a lot of things we strive for being in such an isolated state."