Stéphanie Le Saout, speech therapist and delegate 44 of the Parole Bégaiement association.


David Phelippeau / 20 Minutes

  • This Thursday is the 23rd World Stuttering Day.

  • A speech therapist from Loire-Atlantique explains what changes wearing a mask for stutterers.

  • Then, she explains a fairly recent concept, masked stuttering, which generates great suffering.

This Thursday is World Stuttering Day.

In Nantes, a public meeting (on registration) at the Confluences neighborhood center will take place on Friday evening from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. In France, there are 850,000 declared people who stutter in France (i.e. 1% of the population), but undoubtedly many others which mask it.

This is the theme of the Nantes evening: “Masked stuttering in all its forms.

A theme with two senses.

Explanations with Stéphanie Le Saout, speech therapist at Le Pallet (44) and delegate 44 of the Parole bégaiement association.

What is the impact of the mask (due to the coronavirus) on stuttering?

This creates great difficulties in terms of communication, with a deficit of visual cues and a loss of acoustics because everything is camouflaged.

There is also the problem of being more than a meter apart, which causes the person who stutters to repeat because they are misunderstood.

For a stutterer, there is also sometimes the need to cling to the smile of his interlocutor, a smile that calms… with the mask, it is impossible.

But, there are also positive aspects.

Which ?

With a mask, we slow down our flow so it has a beneficial effect for people who stutter.

The environment adapts better to the fact that we slow down speech.

Moreover, I am asked to repeat, not because I stutter but because I have a mask, that trivializes the situation.

Moreover, for a speech therapist, this mask is new.

How do you manage to work with stutterers?

With children and people without language, it is much more difficult.

I give hints with the top of my face.

I have to amplify my voice a lot and accentuate my facial expressions at the level of the eyes and the top of my face.

Stéphanie Le Saout, speech therapist and delegate 44 of the Parole Bégaiement association.

- David Phelippeau / 20 Minutes

There is also this problem of masked stuttering, ultimately quite unknown to the general public.

Can you explain to us what masked stuttering is?

This is quite new, there is hardly any literature on this subject.

This is all that the person who stutters will put in place as a strategy not to be detected as a person who stutters.

Some people who stutter have never even heard themselves stutter.

It often takes on the appearance of a shy person.

It is very violent, it can create serious trauma.

The severity of stuttering is not proportional to the pain.

With the masked stuttering, we won't see anything hear anything, but the suffering will be horrible.

How do they go about covering this up?

These people will constitute another identity of them.

They avoid situations, words.

They will be the best dictionaries of synonyms, of paraphrases.

They never put themselves in danger.

Sometimes they will even lack vocabulary because they will speak as little as possible.

This week, I saw a teenager who only answered "I don't know", "I forgot" or "I don't know" to my questions.

He doesn't speak, he never gets wet.

What can be the consequences in their professional and social life?

This can go as far as not talking or choosing a job where you have as little contact as possible.

It is non-stop self-control.

They do not want to let any hesitation pass in speech when perfect speech does not exist

How are you working on this problem?

Our role is first of all to identify their functioning and their problem and that they manage to let go.

Is there a cure for stuttering?

It's hard to say that we will be cured of stuttering - which is often hereditary - and that we will have perfect speech.

Our role is to get people who stutter to be better communicators.

We also show them how they manufacture their stuttering, where they have this pressure, this muscle tension and these spasms that settle in them.

But, above all, we will work with them on assertiveness.

My job is done when the person accepts himself.

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