Peter R, Ramig, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor
Fellow, American Speech, Language, Hearing Association
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309
Marshall E. Smith, M.D., Professor
University of Utah School of Medicine
501 S. Chipeta Way
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Adult Person Who Stutters
Laryngeal Function BEFORE Successful Stuttering Treatment
This subject is typical of many persons who stutter (PWS). Specifically, he demonstrates excessive tension in his vocal folds as he tries to move forward through stuttering by forceful adduction of the folds. He is doing the opposite of what is necessary to produce normal sound and speech. What you see in this subject are the learned reactions to the core stuttering behaviors. Although most researchers no longer view stuttering as a learned disorder, how the (PWS) copes with the embarrassment and frustration of the problem are learned reactions. As a result, many behaviors learned by the PWS can also be unlearned through successful stuttering treatment.
1) By tensing his vocal folds this subject is interfering with the normal vibration that is necessary to create voicing. Note how he often forcibly adducts his vocal folds, causing cessation of air and making normal voicing impossible at the moment. What often follows then are tense sounds of struggle as he attempts to overcome the tension and move forward in speech.
2) You also hear interjections of sounds and words that are not part of the passage he is reading. These are often used by PWS when they anticipate stuttering on an upcoming sound or word.
3) Although not visible in this video, it is important to state that during filming the researchers noted pervasive tension in his neck while speaking, something that is observable in many PWS immediately before and during stuttering episodes.
Adult Person Who Stutters
Laryngeal Function AFTER Successful Stuttering Treatment
Through successful stuttering treatment, this subject has learned how to control his stuttering through actively adducting the vocal folds gently, thus allowing successful initiation of normal airflow and voicing.
1) This subject has learned to move forward in speech and significantly reduce the severity of his stuttering by bringing his vocal folds together gently, very similar to what normal speakers do naturally,
2) He also speaks at a slightly reduced speaking rate, which, as he reports, helps him implement the gentle vocal fold adduction. This minimal rate reduction is evident as a result of a slight elongation of a syllable, sound or a word, often in a pause boundary of a sentence, as air flow and vocal fold vibration is initiated gently.
3) This subject also reports using a longer gentle stretch when experiencing a stutter. Specifically, he reports “holding” the gentle stretch as he continues moving forward through the sound and word. Since mastering this technique he stated he seldom ever “jams his vocal cords as before.”