While many people who stutter first come to AIS and describe feeling alone and helpless, they soon discover a place where they know they are understood and supported- a place where they can free their voice.
Living with stuttering can be difficult, our speech-language pathologists can help
Our clients will tell you that AIS is like a second home, and the people, a second family. While many people who stutter first come to AIS and describe feeling alone and helpless, they soon discover a place where they know they are understood and supported- a place where they can free their voice.
If you or someone you care about stutters, you know firsthand how challenging it can be. For many, trying to hide or avoid stuttering just makes the problem worse. Our philosophy is to help individuals maintain the confidence to speak without fear, struggle, or avoidance- whether they continue to stutter or not.
Stuttering is a multi-faceted issue, with physical, cognitive, and emotional components that all need to be addressed.
And that’s why our approach to stuttering therapy sets us apart. Many treatments focus primarily on physical techniques. But at AIS, we take a holistic approach.
Our speech pathologists address the physical aspects of stuttering – as well as the negative emotions and thoughts that can accompany it. In short, we approach stuttering from every angle. Mind. Body. And spirit. AIS treatment draws extensively from avoidance reduction therapy, acceptance and commitment approaches, and rational emotive behavioral therapy. We customize treatment plans according to each individual’s unique stuttering patterns, history, and values.
At AIS, we take a team approach to stuttering treatment. When you come to us, you become part of a larger community and a network of encouragement and guidance. Our staff is dedicated to creating a truly supportive environment for our clients and their family members – and all the people who love them.
We welcome you to schedule an information session to learn more about how therapy at AIS can help you or your loved one.
Signs & symptoms of stuttering
Stuttering is a communication disorder where speech has disruptions (also known as disfluencies) comprised of repetitions of sounds and words, prolongations of sounds, and blocks, where no sound is produced. People who stutter may show other physical behaviors when they stutter such as facial tensing and loss of eye contact.
Many young children stutter easily and do not react negatively. But older teens and adults commonly report negative feelings about their speech including concerns about how others perceive them or how stuttering might prevent them from pursuing their goals. In addition, people who stutter often experience negative emotions including fear, shame, and anger.
Not all people who stutter do so noticeably. Many people stutter “covertly,” meaning they use tricks and avoidance behaviors such as inserting interjections to postpone saying a difficult word. Those who conceal their stuttering often report great fear related to speaking and can definitely benefit from speech therapy.
Stuttering is confusing! The more you try to be fluent, the more you may find yourself struggling. When comfortable and free to speak openly, many people stutter less. We have worked with clients to navigate all of these aspects of stuttering and can help you do the same.
AIS treats people who stutter of all ages and provides support for their families. Our dedicated clinicians have the experience and training to customize treatment plans according to your individual needs and values.
Causes of stuttering
Stuttering (also known as stammering) is caused by the interaction of several factors including genetics, language development, and the environment.
Studies show that areas of the brain controlling speech and language may work differently in people who stutter. For example, there is more right hemisphere activity and less left hemisphere activity in those who stutter. Research has also shown differences in how stutterers process auditory information and perform certain sensory-motor tasks.
Recent studies have identified several genes that may be involved with predisposing an individual to stutter. We know it does run in families and that other factors influence how it presents and develops.
Benefits of individual stuttering therapy
Working individually with a speech therapist allows you to have maximum time focused on your or your child's individual needs. Your therapist will consider factors including family history, pattern of disfluencies (stutters), and overall communication skills to develop a customized treatment program that focuses on what therapy goals you most want to achieve.
Is group therapy a good fit for me? Individual speech therapy vs. group sessions
We regularly advise clients receiving individual sessions to participate in group therapy sessions and stuttering support groups as part of their journey. In the group format, you gain the added benefits of learning from others who share your concerns in everyday life and a safe space to communicate in a group setting.
It provides the perfect atmosphere to practice healthy strategies for communicating openly and stuttering without struggle.
Our approach: Dedicated & individualized speech therapy services for all ages
While therapy for children and adults is very different, our philosophy toward treatment is the same —success means being able to say what you want to say without holding back for fear of stuttering.
It seems intuitive that therapy should focus on eliminating stuttering and building speech fluency. Unfortunately, we now know that treatments that approach stuttering in this way often backfire, causing greater underlying physical struggle, shame and anxiety.
At AIS, you will learn to change not only the physical aspects of your stuttering but also the underlying negative thoughts and feelings that are at the core of your difficulty.
We help parents navigate the sea of available, often contradictory information about early childhood stuttering. When working with preschoolers, we often recommend an approach that emphasizes modifying possible environmental triggers for stuttering and empowering the family with strategies that have been shown to improve a child's speech fluency and to always consider how a child feels and thinks about himself/herself as a communicator.
With school-age kids, our aim is to keep children talking by helping them remain confident in their ability to communicate effectively and manage their stuttering. If your child stutters, we can help them learn effective ways to stutter without struggle, avoidance, or anxiety, to self-advocate, and to develop healthy attitudes about themselves. Whenever necessary, we also help to develop other speech and language skills. We help children speak more confidently and become the most effective communicators they can be, regardless of stuttering.
The teen years can be difficult without a stutter and stuttering can make it all the more challenging. Social relationships are built through talking and stuttering often causes teens to avoid speaking when they think they will have difficulty. We help teens learn ways to stutter more easily, develop healthy self-esteem, and communicate more confidently - so they can fully participate in their own lives.
Many people come to us having had some past success that they could not maintain. For many people who stutter, the fear of stuttering has come to feel worse than the stutter itself. We understand the complexities of stuttering and help you customize a plan for freeing your voice in all speaking situations that arise. You will reduce avoidance behaviors, learn to speak without tension and struggle, and will develop healthy thoughts and emotions about your ability to speak effectively.
Based on your individual policy, your health coverage may reimburse costs for your or your child's stuttering therapy services. For those who cannot receive insurance reimbursement, or those whose reimbursement is still insufficient, we encourage you to apply for our financial assistance.
Something else that sets us apart? The therapists at AIS are specialists in fluency disorders. All of our therapists are highly trained in treating stuttering, and are certified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
AIS Director Heather Grossman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BCS-F and Atlanta Clinic Director Carl Herder, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F are two of the 200 Board-Certified Specialists in Fluency Disorders in the entire country. Further, all of the therapists at AIS have received advanced specialty training in comprehensive assessment and treatment for people with speech fluency disorders (stuttering, cluttering, acquired fluency disorders).
You will find our therapists on the referral lists from these other leading organizations:
The American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders (www.stutteringspecialists.org)
The National Stuttering Association (www.westutter.org)
The Stuttering Foundation of America (www.stutteringhelp.org)