The most common treatment methods being utilized to help adults who
stutter are auditory assistive devices, speech therapy and medication.
I am not sure which treatment you recently read about, but perhaps
you are referring to the SpeachEasy - a small device which is worn in
the ear to allow stutterers to utilize auditory feedback to hear their
own speech. I have highlighted the most recent information about the
SpeechEasy device below, as well as some other methods which are
considered promising or helpful.
Please keep in mind that there is no universal agreement concerning
the cause of stuttering, so treatment methods are often tailored to
The SpeachEasy is a small device which is worn in the ear to allow
stutterers to utilize auditory feedback to hear their own speech. It
was developed at East Carolina University and is currently marketed by
the Janus Development Group.
From University of Colorado at Boulder:
"A tiny, hearing aid-like device is revolutionizing speech therapy for
some older children and adults who stutter, according to a University
of Colorado at Boulder professor. The device, called SpeechEasy, has
helped a number of people who have not had satisfying results with
traditional stuttering therapy, said Professor Peter Ramig, associate
chair of the CU-Boulder department of speech, language and hearing
sciences and a specialist in the research and treatment of fluency
disorders and stuttering."
"Our research shows that 25 percent to 30 percent of the stutterers
who have not had success with traditional stuttering therapy are
helped significantly by this device, some of those more than they have
experienced previously," explained Ramig. "An additional one-third are
also helped, but significantly less, while the remaining are not
helped at all."
SpeechEasy, manufactured by Janus Development Group of South Carolina,
is worn in the ear. The prosthetic device changes how people who
stutter hear themselves by both echoing their words via a slight delay
and by altering the pitch of the voice. Other small devices can either
echo or delay words, but none do both.
Scientists are not certain why the device works, but they do know that
two technologies, delayed auditory feedback and frequency altered
feedback, or pitch change, have been known for decades to help people
who stutter. It is only recently that these technologies could be
incorporated into a tiny device that could be worn in one ear and on a
daily basis, Ramig said.
"The device is not a cure for stuttering," Ramig said, "but it
dramatically decreases the severity of it for some people struggling
with this embarrassing, debilitating problem."
See "CU Speech Pathologist Studies Device That Helps Reduce
Stuttering." University of Colorado at Boulder. Dec. 8, 2004
Auburn University is conducting a study of the SpeachEasy device
which you can read about below:
"AU Researcher Seeks Participants Who Stutter For Study."
Also read "SpeechEasy Device Dramatically Helps a Young Woman With a
Serious Stutter." ABC News, 2005
Research on the SpeachEasy device:
"The effect of SpeechEasy on stuttering frequency in laboratory
conditions." Armson J, Kiefte M, Mason J, De Croos D.
J Fluency Disord. 2006;31(2):137-52. Epub 2006 Jun 5.
"The effect of SpeechEasy on stuttering frequency during speech
produced in a laboratory setting was examined. Thirteen adults who
stutter participated. Stuttering frequencies in two baseline
conditions were compared to stuttering frequencies with the device
fitted according to the manufacturer's protocol. The fitting protocol
includes instructions for deliberate use of vowel prolongation.
Relative to the initial baseline condition, stuttering was reduced by
74%, 36%, and 49% for reading, monologue, and conversation,
respectively. In comparison, stuttering was reduced by 42%, 30%, and
36%, respectively with the device in place, but before participants
were instructed to deliberately prolong vowels. Examination of
individual response profiles revealed that although stuttering reduced
in the device compared to the baseline conditions during at least one
of three speech tasks for most participants, degree and pattern of
benefit varied greatly across participants."
Where to obtain the SpeachEasy?
The SpeachEasy website contains information about the device and
references to providers in the United States and Internationally.
US providers by state
How Effective is the SpeachEasy?
The National Stuttering Foundation has compiled some information
about the effectiveness of the SpeachEasy and other similar auditory
"Researchers, clinicians, and members of the stuttering community
appear to be divided regarding the use of the SpeechEasy. Some people
are strong advocates of the device, while others are strong opponents.
Unfortunately, at present, there are no published, independent studies
that show what percentage of the population of people who stutter are
likely to benefit from the SpeechEasy. To be sure, many people have
received varying degrees of benefit from the device; however, it is
impossible to say who will benefit and who will not. Here at the NSA,
we have heard from many members who have tried the SpeechEasy. Like
all things, though, there are some who have found success and some who
have not. It is important to recognize that different people have
different definitions of "success." For example, some individuals
might experience considerably increased fluency in most speaking
situations, while others may only use it in very specific contexts.
Still others receive very little benefit from the device.
Indeed, in a recent survey of NSA members, 125 of 701 respondents
reported using a feedback or speech pacer device such as DAF, masker,
Fluency Master, Pacemaster, etc. Of those, 38% reported that their
experience with the device was not at all successful; 44% said their
experience was somewhat successful; and 18% reported their experience
was very successful.."
Refer to the NSAS site to read more:
You may also find out about a similar device called the Fluency
Master on the following link:
"SPEAKING OUT - For stutterers, it?s not always easy. Now, Jeffrey
Shames is ready," BY JAMIE TALAN.
For further opinion on the SpeachEasy and the Fluency Master, see:
"Straight Talk on Electronic Devices: SpeechEasy & Fluency Master."
New Medication may be helpful - Pagoclone
Dr. Gerald Maguire, a psychiatrist and stuttering specialist at the
University of California at Irvine is experimenting with a new
medication called pagoclone which has proven helpful for some
"As a 62-year-old grandmother who has dealt with a severe stutter all
her life, Sue Payne was skeptical when a friend told her last year
about a study of a new drug that might relieve her speech problem.
"I just laughed when I heard about it," said Payne, a
special-education counselor from Austin, Texas, who laughs at the
memory even now. "I thought, `Gee whiz, I'd like to try that just to
see what it's like.'"
"But six months of taking two experimental pills each morning made a
believer of Payne, who said she speaks with fewer staccato pauses
between words than before. Her improvement has come as many experts
are taking the promise of medication for stuttering more seriously.
"Maguire is helping conduct a study of a new compound called
pagoclone, the drug that Payne credits with improving her speech.
Although the medication's precise mode of action is unclear,
scientists know it inhibits a neurotransmitter called GABA, quieting
the cacophony of brain signals thought to play a role in stuttering.
The drug's maker, Massachusetts-based Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc.,
says its study found that more than half of 88 adult patients who
received the drug showed improvement in their speech after two months.
The results are preliminary and have not yet been published in a
Read "Medication for stuttering? Experts study potential," by Jeremy
Manier. Chicago Tribune. June 20, 2006
Speech Pathology Treatment Programs
Many individuals find results by working with a speech pathologist.
Two good examples of university-based treatment programs are
referenced below. If you are interested in this type of therapy and
would like help locating a program in your area, please let me know
your location and I will see if I can help your further!
From California State University Center for Communicative Disorders
"Most of the fluency disorders that are evaluated and treated in our
clinic are stuttering. Stuttering is a disorder that results in the
uncontrolled interruption of the normal rate and pattern of speech.
Stuttering is usually first noticed in early to middle childhood and
often persists into adolescence and adulthood. The cause of this kind
of stuttering is unknown, but it is assumed to be due to an
interaction between a physiological predisposition that children are
born with and their environmental experiences. Often there are other
family members who also stutter, or stuttered when they were children.
Sometimes stuttering begins in adulthood as the result of a stroke,
brain injury, or emotional trauma. This kind of stuttering is called
adult onset stuttering. Another kind of fluency disorder is called
cluttering. Cluttering results in speech that is difficult to
understand because it is too fast and many sounds of speech are left
out. Sometimes there are accompanying language and organization
For adult stutteres:
"There are several clearly defined parts to the process of treating
stuttering. The first involves careful observation and description of
the stuttering behavior. You need to become an expert about your own
particular pattern of stuttering. Although there are common elements
among all people who stutter, there are also very definite individual
differences. The second element involves exploring the impact of
stuttering on your life, and how you have learned to adjust and
accommodate to it. Often the learned responses to stuttering get in
the way of successful treatment. One of the goals of this phase of
therapy is to become less reactive and more accepting of your own
disfluencies and to return to a pattern of stuttering that was more
like the easier stuttering that you did as a young child. When these
first two goals have been achieved, you will learn various techniques
that will make your disfluencies less tense and more manageable. The
longer-term goal is to achieve speech that moves forward with a
minimum of tension and disruption. A related objective is to reduce
your apprehension and fear of speaking situations and the prospect of
stuttering in them."
How is therapy conducted?
"After a thorough evaluation, clients are assigned to a therapist for
treatment. Your student therapist is likely to change from quarter to
quarter, but continuity of therapy is maintained by weekly case
management conferences and through ongoing supervision by permanent,
professional clinic staff. There is always someone who is following
your situation and who knows the nature of your treatment from quarter
"Both individual and group therapy is provided. Sometimes you may
receive a combination of both. The placement of a client in a group or
in individual treatment is based on the treatment needs and goals of
each client. In many instances group therapy is more effective than
individual therapy, or individual therapy alone."
Duke University also provides a good overview of how such programs can
help adult stutterers.
Success of "Attitude-changing" Treatments
A survey by the NSA reported that individual responded to a variety of
"Adult stutterers in the survey reported greater success from
attitude-changing treatments than from those that emphasize speech
mechanics. "Changing my attitudes toward speaking and stuttering" was
rated very successful by 50% of those who had undergone that kind of
treatment, somewhat successful by 39% and not at all successful by
10%. "Teaching me ways to stutter more easily" was considered very
successful by 30%, somewhat successful by 57% and not at all
successful by 13%. "Teaching me ways to speak so that I would not
stutter" was judged very successful by 19%, somewhat successful by 53%
and not at all successful by 27%."
"The survey also confirmed that speech treatment is not a one-time
solution: 85% of adults who had undergone speech therapy had two or
more different treatment experiences and 31% had five or more."
"Many survey respondents also had tried alternative remedies ranging
from hypnosis and psychiatry to assistive devices, motivational
courses, medication and herbal remedies. While some respondents
reported success, these methods were significantly less successful
than speech treatment."
"In addition, 51 respondents reported trying an extraordinary variety
of other treatments, including electroshock, acupuncture, chiropractic
treatment, tongue surgery, Native American sweat lodges and vision
quests, and a faith healer: indicating how determined some people are
to find something - anything - to end their stuttering."
Read "Stuttering Survey Suggests Success of Attitude-Changing
Treatment," By James A. McClure and Scott Yaruss, Ph.D., CCC-SLP. ASHA
Leader May 13, 2003
Factors contributing to stuttering
I thought you might find these individual studies interesting.
A recent study by Vanderbilt University found that children who begin
stuttering at a young age may be more emotionally sensitive.
Read "Emotions play role in stuttering, study shows," by Sandra G .
Boodman. The Washington Post. July 12, 2006
A Purdue University study reveals the role that language processing
plays in the brains of those who stutter.
Read "Stuttering more than talk - research shows brain's role in
disorder. Purdue News.
Anatomical differences in the brain have been noted in individuals who stutter:
"Stuttering has been long thought to be caused by emotional factors,
but researchers who studied adults with persistent stuttering found
that these individuals had anatomical irregularities in the areas of
the brain that control language and speech.
"The study results, reported in the July 24 issue of Neurology, the
scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, provide the
first evidence that anatomic abnormalities within the areas of the
brain that control speech and language puts an individual at risk for
the development of stuttering."
Read "Study Ties Stuttering To Anatomical Differences In The Brain." July 16, 2001
I hope the information I have provided is helpful. If there is
anything more I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask. I will
be happy to see what else I can find if you need some additional
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