Ebenezer Porter on Speech Impediments--Stammering

1827, pp.32-33

As directly connected with articulation, a few remarks on impediments seem to be necessary. Stammering may doubtless exist from such causes, and to such degree as to be insurmountable; though in most cases, a complete remedy is attainable by the early use of proper means. They who have given most attention to this defect, suppose that it should generally be ascribed to some infelicity of nervous temperament. When this is the cause, eagerness of emotion, fear of strangers, surprise, anxiety-any thing that produces a sudden rush of spirits, will communicate a spasmodic action to the organs of speech. The process of cure in such a case, must begin with such attention to bodily health, as will give firmness to the nervous system, and produce a calm, clear, and regular action of the mind.

With this preparation, it is best not to put the stammerer at first to the hardest task of his organs, but to begin at a distance, and come to the difficulty by regular approaches. The course that has been pursued, with perfect success, by one respectable teacher is this. The pupil is to begin with reading verse; the more simple and regular, the better:--he is to mark the feet distinctly with his voice, and beat time with his hand to toe to the movement. From verse of this regular structure, he may proceed to that which is less uniform in metrical order; then to prose, of the elevated and poetic kind; then to common prose; and then by degrees to the difficulty combinations at which he had been accustomed to stammer.

In repeating certain words there may be an obstinate struggle of the organs; as in the attempt to pronounce parable, the p may be spoken again and again, while the remainder of the word does not follow. In such a case, the advice of the celebrated Dr. Darwin was, that the stammerer should, in a strong voice, eight or ten times, repeat the word, without the initial letter, or with an aspirate before it, as arable, harable; and then speak it softly, with the initial letter p,--parable. This should be practiced for weeks or months, upon every word, where the difficulty of utterance chiefly occurs.