Frequently asked questions

Are there drugs that can help control stuttering?

There are no medications on the market that effectively control stuttering. The medications being tested on people who stutter were developed for other conditions, but may help to improve stuttering. It is a complex area. Extensive tests on Pagoclone showed unacceptable side effects for small gains in fluency and a reduction in anxiety. There is ongoing research to test new medications which have fewer side effects.

Can stuttering be cured?

While many people are able to speak more easily and greatly reduce the effect of stuttering on their lives, there is no actual cure for stuttering. There is specialist speech therapy for stuttering in Canada. Though therapy can be most effective for children under the age of 5 and is highly advised, speech therapy can be beneficial at any stage of life.

How can I help my child who stutters?
  1. Show you are interested in what your child is saying, and that there is no hurry.
  2. If you are feeling upset by seeing your child struggle, just give your full attention at that moment and be enthusiastic when acknowledging what they are trying to say.
  3. Share your own thoughts and opinions with your child, and give them a chance to share theirs – you don't need to ask questions all the time.
  4. Encourage your child to express themselves as best they can, giving plenty of time to talk.
  5. Try to slow down you own speech rate and pause before you answer a question.
  6. Reassure your child if s/he gets upset or frustrated, saying something like: ‘you had a few bumpy words there didn’t you? But that can happen when you’re learning to talk’. Don’t correct their speech at this stage. There are specific ways to model fluent speech that a speech pathologist can teach you.
How do I join a self-help group? What should I expect?

The CSA site has a listing of self-help groups across Canada.

Groups can have different purposes. Some provide a space to share how stuttering affects you and to discuss things that can help. Some are more structured like the Toronto Toastmasters group for public speaking, and some are purely social, like the ones associated with the website. You should be prepared to share your own experiences and listen respectfully to people with very different ideas from your own.

Not many cities have self help groups. If you are interested in starting a group, you can advertise through the CSA website.

More information:

  • A guide to starting a self help group (from the British Stammering Association)
I am an adult and I have recently started stuttering after an accident/illness/surgery/traumatic incident. Should I get speech therapy?

As therapy is expensive and time consuming, it is important to get the right kind suitable to your specific condition. Your physician can advise you. Certain kinds of brain damage can cause speech disorders and will require therapy. In some cases, it is possible that a psychologist or trauma counselor might be more effective to address late onset stuttering.

I am an adult who stutters. How do I obtain speech therapy?

Contact a speech language pathologist who has experience working with people who stutter.

The Canadian Association of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) has a database of registered SLPs across Canada. Also contact provincial associations of speech-language pathologists, who may also be able to direct you to clinics or health centres that provides therapy. There are also two to four-week intensive therapy programs in Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

For more information, see our Clinics page.

I took speech therapy for years and it didn't help. Why not?

There could be many reasons for this. It is possible that the therapist was not right for you, or perhaps it was not the right time in your life. There may have been unrecognised personal issues that got in the way. Changing how you speak requires changes in how you see yourself and how you relate to other people. Long-term benefits from therapy come from your commitment to practice new ways of speaking and thinking until they really become part of you. Change is hard work. It can be helpful to recognise that stuttering is sometimes easier - strange though that sounds. If fluency and self acceptance are important to you, there is hope that a fresh approach could be more successful.

Is speech therapy covered by health insurance?

Most health insurance programs cover a small portion of speech therapy costs – usually about $500 per year. This is minimal when private speech therapy costs are typically more than a $100 per hour. Many employers are beginning to offer additional insurance programs such as health spending accounts which can be used for such costs as speech therapy. Do not give up on obtaining therapy as there may be deferred payment options or scholarships available through therapy programs.

Is stuttering a disability? Am I eligible for the Canadian disability tax credit?

A person who stutters can apply for the disability tax credit by submitting the Canada Revenue Agency Form T2201. The form is jointly completed by the applicant and a qualified practitioner, such as a medical doctor or a speech language pathologist. Whether or not you qualify depends on the degree to which a disability restricts one of the basic activities of daily life. The CRA defines speaking as a basic activity.

It is important to note that a recent change to this credit allows the CRA to take into consideration the cumulative effect of restriction in two or more of the basic activities of daily life. In effect, even if you do not meet the threshold level of restriction in any one daily life activity (like speaking), a lesser degree of restriction in two or more categories may still qualify you for this credit.

Additional details about this credit can be found on the CRA website

Is stuttering generic?

Stuttering can run in families. About 6 out of 10 people who stutter are thought to have a family member who also stutters. Research on extended families where stuttering is predominant has found specific types of genetic mutations. These mutations are thought to cause a difference in brain functioning, which leads to stuttering. While researchers have found genetic similarities in people who stutter, no single genetic cause - or gene - has yet been clearly identified.