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Saliva interference as a cause of speech impediment

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Saliva interference as a cause of speech impediment

Postby wellsee » Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:15 pm

I have my own situation with stuttering. I can speak normally, I will not attempt public speaking, but I can speak normally in normal situations.

I think that the cause of stuttering is physical and physiological, the parts involved are basic and the failure mechanism is simple, it happens inside the mouth, with the tongue, saliva and the chewing motion of the mouth. It’s not other parts of your body, your mind or the environment, they could have contributed worsening of the situation but they are not the main cause.

If observe your mouth, around the root of your tongue, even when not chewing, saliva would collect in the back inside the mouth. When you speak, you move your tongue and jaw to speak certain words, but you are subconsciously afraid that the movement would cause the saliva to flow out. Saliva is natural when eating and chewing food, but when you speak, the presence of saliva can interfere with movement of the tongue inside the mouth. You don't want to stretch out the tongue when speaking certain words for fearing that saliva would spill out, your jaw is afraid to move because it might cause saliva to spill out of the edge of the mouth.

If you keep the mouth closed, and it doesn’t even have to be very long, saliva would accumulate and collect inside. You can feel it. But just inside the lips, for some people, saliva might dry up and become sticky, and then at the moment when you open your mouth to speak, you feel that your lips are stuck together and causing the opening the most difficult when start speaking.

For me personally, saliva always accumulate on the right side inside my mouth, and the right side is the natural side where most movement occurs and is heavily involved when speaking or chewing food. When speaking, force is usually applied to the right side. Let’s call it the dominant side, maybe there are those who don’t have a dominant side.

To confirm this observation, lie down in bed, in my case of the right side being dominant side, lie down on the left side so that the right side inside your mouth is less interfered by the saliva accumulation and the movement is more free. Or when sitting, lean your face on your left palm with your left elbow on the table so the right side is elevated and saliva flows naturally to the left side through gravity. Experiment with speaking without the fear of saliva accumulating and interfering with the movement of the tongue, the jaw and the whole mouth.

In normal situations, before speaking, find a way to suck out the saliva collected inside your mouth, especially around the root of your tongue. If you still feel sticky inside, sip some water, rinse and swallow, for the moment when the tongue is free from saliva interference, speak normally, position the tongue, the jaw and lips in the normal fashion to speak, see if there is in improvement in your speech pattern when saliva is not interfering.

If you observe the effect and indeed there is improvement, then figure out a way ways reduce the interference because saliva is natural occurrence. When you speak, the motion is similar to the chewing motion when you eat, so saliva just naturally come out. Even when you are idle, saliva still occur by itself, you cannot stop it, you can only become aware of it and try to reduce its effect, and then re-learn the normal way of speaking.

Different people have different words they usually stumble upon. For example, some people stumble on the k sound like key or tr sound like strategic. If you say the words and observe the tongue movement, it’s likely that some people are afraid of completing the full movement because of the subconscious fear of saliva flowing out and innate need to control it, but that subconscious control mechanism would interfere with normal speech pattern.

For those people who don’t stutter, maybe their physical development became such that the physical configuration of the mouth, the tongue, jaw and lips, became natural at dealing with saliva accumulation and interference, or maybe there is no interference in normally developed configuration. But for people who stutter, you just have to be aware of the interference consciously, deal with it and adjustment the movement, and re-learn the normal or adjusted way of speaking.

When you see baby start speaking or just babbling, usually there is drooling, and it may be funny. But then they grow and naturally develop normal speech pattern, but some people may encounter difficulties during this development, the problems can definitely come from other physical areas and psychological nature, and show up on the face and the mouth. You just have to realize it and compensate for it.
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And the natural chewing motion as the speech mechanism

Postby wellsee » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:53 am

At first, I thought I would just put this theory out there, see if other people feel the same way or had the same observation. Then I realized that there is more that I experienced before I came to this conclusion, it wasn't like just one day I felt that saliva was there and impeded my speech, and that was the problem, rather it was a result of over 10 years of trying different things, employing many tools to capture different mechanisms and the outcomes.

They were painful experiences, frustrating experiences, there were times when I felt that I got it, when I thought I figured out the key movement inside that could carry me through the normal speech, but then it would suddenly fail publicly just when I felt confident and that left me confused about where it went wrong, and I had to start from the beginning again.

Now I have reached a point where I am comfortable with my speech pattern, I don't use substitution words, I speak at a pace where it's not too fast just to go through the words quickly or deliberately too slow as if thinking and speaking at the same time, I think it's a pace that is normal and doesn't surprise people that they have to adjust. The volume is ok, I don't shout at people. But I do mumble my words at times that some parts are not intelligible, they are from old habits of pronunciation and are hard to change, if I pay attention to those words and make an effort, I could improve.

Most importantly, at this point, I don't really think too much before speaking, there is no pressure, no fear that I must open up smoothly so that I can finish the rest smoothly, not having that mental block, that stress is the biggest thing. It used to be, I wanted to show this, to see how it would work, but then it failed disastrously, the frustration of that incident and from all the years before all came together and piled up as a huge burden that I felt I could never overcome.

I have found that I am most comfortable speaking to people on the phone because I can concentrate on the techniques, make certain movement to get ready, and keep the saliva interference at minimum.

The main technique for me is the natural motion of chewing food. If you observe yourself when you eat and the chewing motion, your jaw moves and your tongue moves as well, you don't keep your lips totally closed because it's not natural, you don't keep your mouth wide open in the process because food would fall out, you keep a small opening and keep moving the tongue and grind the jaw to stir and chew the food, chew a piece of chewing gum to feel the movements.

For me, the natural speech motion is similar to the natural chewing motion, if there is food stuck in the back your mouth, that side of the tongue and jaw move to get the food out, if there is something stuck on the upper gum and in the teeth, you stretch your tongue to get it out. At the same time, you want to keep the natural opening, like saying "the" with the tongue tip against the upper teeth as pivot point, and push the jaw away to keep the opening, that's probably the optimum and natural distance.

You need some force in natural chewing motion, but when you speak, that kind of force could be too much and make the speech unnatural and forced. So you can practice the natural chewing motion to train the mechanical movements of the parts involved in speech, but when you speak, you want to reach a point where the voice is dominant and the movements are just naturally in place.

Of course, the chewing motion will stimulate the salivary glands and saliva would accumulate and interfere, so you need to wipe away naturally and from the inside. Quite often, there are those people, when they are not speaking or about to speak, the tongue is exposed through some kind of movement, I think the effect is that excess saliva is kept away from the tongue. But because they are fluent, and the movement is so natural, you think it's just their habit and you wouldn't think it's part of their speech mechanism, but effectively it is.
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