Can speech issues negatively affect your quality of life?

Stuttering is a socio communicational problem which is a common problem among adults and children. It can have negative effects on individuals’ mental, social and emotional aspects.

While the causes are often numerous, they mainly come after accidents, head injuries or are simply presented during childhood. However, due to its effect on social life, it is advisable to seek help and overcome the issue as its damages become more severe.

Can speech issues negatively affect your quality of life?

Stuttering is very common in kids, but it is not entirely inexistent in adults. This involuntary fluency disorder is known to precipitate socio communication problems in toddlers. The question many people ask, however, is whether or not the disorder has an impact on the Quality of life (QOL) in adulthood. What is its effect on individuals’ mental and emotional health?

To answer this question, we must look at stuttering from a multidimensional perspective – we must look at different aspects of a stutterer’s life. Of course, there are tons of studies that try to investigate and estimate the impact of stuttering on QOL, but most of them have registered little to no success.

One thing is certain, though: stuttering has a negative effect on most quality of life (QOL) dimensions in adults. It is important that additional research is done in order to get the exact extent of the negative impact for better treatment planning. This will also be instrumental in preventing any future mental, emotional, or social disorders that could stem from adult stuttering.

Why do adults stutter?

Understanding the causes of stuttering in adults is the key to understanding a stutterer’s quality of life. Some speech issues start in childhood while others follow head injuries after an accident or a prolonged illness. People who suffer from neurological diseases sometimes find trouble producing sound and developing speech. They often find themselves making a slurred speech or lacking the right words to form complete statements.

There are qualified speech and language pathologists who help such people to improve speech. You can sign up for speech therapy for adults, for example, to have a professional help you deal with language issues. Speech therapy for adults also applies to patients with cognitive difficulties, particularly short-term memory.

How can hypnotherapy help?

Another useful strategy that has proven to be effective is hypnotherapy. How does it work? Well, hypnotherapy is mainly done to trigger the mind to believe in something. So, it can change a person’s negative thoughts into something positive which eventually can become a reality. Also, people struggling with stuttering tend to feel anxious and stress about their condition which usually only makes the situation worse. In this context, a hypnotherapist can help by putting you in a relaxed state where unconsciously you are open to suggestions. Being in that state, the hypnotherapist can provide advice and tips that could ease anxiety and stress, which in turn could also help with the stuttering condition.

As hypnotherapist Biodun Ogunyemi explains, “Hypnosis has been proven to be useful in eliminating stammers and speech impediments. Hypnosis seeks first to find the vent or stress that causes the verbal response. The hypnotherapist can make suggestions to the patient that eliminates the memory of the event that produced the stammer or speech impediment.”

He goes on to explain, “Hypnosis calms the mind, creates greater relaxation, focuses the muscles on the task of speaking, and provides relief from the embarrassment that speech impediments can cause. Continued use of self-hypnosis techniques will maintain your ability to stay calm, focused, and relaxed so that you speak normally and stay in control.”

The impact on socio‐emotional development and quality of life of language impairment

Adults with severe speech impairment tend to have a worse QOL compared to those that stutter just a little. Research shows that as an individual tries to regulate and manage his/her speech impairment, his/her quality of life improves.

People who struggle with speech problems right from childhood have a normal QOL. Studies show that such people get used to the life of stuttering- they know no other life- so they don’t really care how others think of their stuttering. That is different from people who develop speech impairment in adulthood, say due to stroke or any other illness.

Poor social interaction skills sometimes precipitate shame, embarrassment, and frustrations. People with speech impairment are easily irritated and are more vulnerable to depression. Note that speech impairments can be very isolating, so you must do all you can to prevent that from happening.

Studies also indicate that many people who struggle with speech issues through school are affected negatively in their academic life. Such kids have problems making friends and establishing healthy relationships with teachers. If not addressed early enough, this problem can adversely affect an individual’s later life, say in terms of limiting their career options.

Speech issues can also affect your ability to obtain work or to relate well with colleagues, bosses, and clients. That can reflect in a bad way your work performance, hampering your chances for promotion. The good thing is that with speech therapy for adults, you can successfully reverse the effect of speech impairment on your professional life.

Problems with stutter are problems that also impact the student’s academic and social life within the school premises. Especially for teenagers, such a problem may impact their social life considerably. Thus, it is very important for teachers to know how to behave in such cases and help the student overcome the challenges. There are several steps that teacher can do to help students such as:

  • Talk slow so that the student feels comfortable when he then speaks slow.
  • Do not tell the student to relax or slow down.
  • Convey to the student that you are listening to the content said rather than the way it was said.
  • Look at them with interest when they are talking.
  • Repeat and rephrase what the student said to let them know you understood what was said.

Also, if the student is already visiting a speech therapy specialist, the teacher must coordinate with the speech therapist and let him/her know where the student is struggling most, so that practices are made in that context. Provide the speech therapist with classroom materials so that they can use them as part of the practice sessions. Also, the speech therapist and teacher must coordinate on the technique they want to follow to push the student because it would be confusing, ineffective and unsuccessful to use different approaches to push the children to talk normally.

Final thoughts

It is advisable that you seek medical attention as soon as possible in case you experience a sudden onset of impaired speech as that could be a sign of an underlying health condition. As we have mentioned, impaired speech in adulthood is in most cases a product of illnesses such as stroke, or severe head injuries. These conditions can be life-threatening if not addressed early enough.

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Written by Mary Jo Martin
Mary Jo Martin is a speech-language pathologist.
Written by Mary Jo Martin
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