Page images

Some of the speech defects from this latter cause improve or disappear during school life from better physical development and from observation and imitation of better speech. At any rate they are not likely to become worse, though some of them become more fixed with age.

Faults in Nervous Control of the Speech Organs

“Emotional” Defects

> Although the organs of speech seem normal, the nervous system in which speech originates gets out of order for the time being and the speech organs do not work right. Because we can not lay our hands on it, the defect is often spoken of as “mental" or "emotional." It is mental in that something goes wrong, under certain conditions, when the person attempts to put his ideas into spoken words. Instead of normal speech there is noticeable hesitation in utterance or needless repetition of sounds; in other words, there is stammering" or "stuttering.

During the development of speech, especially in the child's third or fourth year, the very unstable nervous mechanism of many children does not work fast enough for the expression of what they have in mind and they stammer. This early stammering usually disappears in a few months as better control develops, and it probably persists only in those with some definite but hidden fault which on occasion can not be surmounted. Stammering appears in more severe form and is more likely to persist in children of poor health. In older persons the amount of stammering varies with the general physical condition. It has been known to appear in adults during the course of diseases of the central nervous system and has appeared during treatment with thyroid extract, which is known to produce instability of the nervous mechanism.

Some cases of stammering or stuttering (the terms are now used interchange ably) are said to have begun after fright; this is quite probable since the vocal apparatus would be used at such a time, and permanent damage of nerve cells has been produced experimentally by fright in animals. Association with and imitation of stammerers is given as a cause and heredity has been blamed in some cases.

The origin of stammering and the conditions favoring its continuance are admirably described by Dr. H. C. Cameron: 1

In excitement, and especially when attempting narrative, many little children hesitate and become inarticulate as their tongues trip over the words they are so eager to utter. It depends to a great extent upon the parents' attitude to this difficulty whether it passes or persists. It persists only when the child loses confidence in his power, and when his mind becomes fixed upon the difficulty. Grown-up persons, however badly they may stammer in the presence of others, when alone have usually no difficulty in achieving perfect articulation. I have known more than one bad stammerer who was a good actor, and who when on the stage, divested of his own personality and the selfconsciousness that went with it, had his voice under the most perfect control. If too much attention is paid to an incipient stammer, if it is deplored in his presence, if the other children tease and caricature, if his father complains that the boy gets on his nerves, and the mother keeps appeal. ing to him not to do it, there will be awakened that self-consciousness which inhibits all precise

Cameron, H. C., The Nervous Child. Third Edition, Oxford Medical Publications, Oxford University Press.

controlled movement, whether it be signing some all-important document or holing a 2 foot putt to win a championship.

The child must be taught to believe in his growing power of control, and he must be made to feel that his parents are taking pleasure in watching his daily and weekly progress. When, breathless and eager, he attempts a complicated piece of narrative, the tone of his mother's voice may quiet him before he begins. Excitement, overexertion, and fatigue always show in an increase in the difficulty of articulation.

We have already mentioned the effect of outside human influences upon the speech of most of us, but the emotional disturbance produced in later life by the presence of certain persons or collections of persons probably has little to do with the beginning of stammering or stuttering.

However, once having developed this speech defect, and having become aware that it exists and is noticed by others, the presence of unsympathetic hearers makes the stammerer more certain to stammer.

Normal talking, like walking, is an unconscious process, and the consciousness that, from experience, the nerve messages directed to the speech organs may not produce the desired results becomes a fatal monkey wrench or shower of wrenches which, thrown into the works for starting the machinery of vocal response, makes failure of that response, in the special situation, well-nigh certain.

It is possible that the person possessed of this speech defect is one of those in whom the nervous system responds with more than average speed or force, but he is no more “nervous” to begin with than a very large proportion of his fellows. After becoming aware of his defect and being daily reminded of it, often in his own family in sundry nerve-wracking and soul-destroying ways, it is no wonder if he becomes more nervous than his fellows and far more nervous than he would have been without his defect. Not only does the speech mechanism misbehave but the flood of nervous discharge may overflow into muscles, voluntary and involuntary, outside the speech organs with not only useless but exhausting effects in circulatory disturbances and bodily contortions. It is little wonder that the cure of stuttering or stammering after the earliest years is difficult and yet, when understood, its improvement should not seem at all discouraging. If it is completely overcome (as it often is), well and good.

Finding the Defect Ample time and patience should be taken by the teacher, parent, or patient himself in finding out just where the weakness lies in the speech mechanism.

(a) Does he substitute a wrong sound for the right one? Does he say “muvver” for “mother" or "ith" for "with"?

(b) Does he always exhibit his defect when pronouncing certain letters or syllables?

(c) Whether or not this happens, does he always pronounce these letters in this manner, or does his defect appear only on certain occasions?

(d) Does he hesitate and have difficulty in making a sound (stammer), or does he repeat the sound unnecessarily (Stutter)?

(e) Of the sounds which we use in speech, with which does the faulty utterance occur?

Have the child pronounce slowly the following test sentences (repeating them if necessary) and note any substitutions or omissions of sounds represented by letters italicized:

1. I would ask you to beware the big bear.
2. You can purchase many things with pence and pounds.
3. The mice and men were making merry.
4. Whence do you come and whither do you go?
5. We wonder at your wisdom.
6. The farmer attended the fair and enjoyed the feast.
7. We think of many things to be thankful for.
8. We ran down the road that leads to the rear of the rose garden.
9. The train took us to town.
10. The man wore a vest when he planted the vine.
11. If five and four make nine, how many are four and five?
12. I believe this is a very good day to visit the zoo.
13. We will go down into the deep grass.
14. Can you keep a secret until I see you again?
15. Sometimes the sky is azure.
16. We assure you that we are insured.
17. The child is a cheerful companion.
18. Did you ever read the “Lady of the Lake"?
19. The boys ran because the lion roared.
20. You and your dog can come next year.
21. The cat ate up my cake.
22. Go and gather the flowers you have forgotten.
23. Did you say you went to the play?
24. The magician made a great deal of money.
25. We know the man has a new hat.
26. He was singing a song which we had never heard sung.
27. Have you heard that a bird in hand is better than a bird in a bush?
28. He has caught an eel.
29. Did you say you saw Marjory Daw?
30. What will you have from the mill?
31. Did you pay for the lace to-day?
32. You will have less time to rest.
33. Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.
34. She was careful of her fair skin.
35. The bat was lying on a sack in our attic.
36. Did you look in the book?
37. Has the child taken off his boots to cool his feet?
38. I hope you will write me a note about the coat.
39. Stop using the mop and play with the top.
40. This bird is the third we have owned.
41. They found the cause of the loud sound.
42. If you soil your clothes, it will cause the toil of washing them.

Substitutions are most frequently made for the following sounds: ch, d, f, g, k (or c), I, n, r, s, sh, sz, t, v, and zh.

In using these test sentences it may be found that mistakes of pronunciation are made other than with the special sounds which the sentence is intended to bring out. Mistakes with these sounds should be noted along with those made with the words especially intended to detect errors of speech. They will serve as a double check.

The following exercise with separate words can be used for a recheck on the pupil's utterance:

Th (silent)—Thick, thin, three, south, length.
Th (sounded)

-Those, other, father, weather.
S (silent)-Soon, class, school, lisp.
S (sounded)--Nose, daisy, was, easy.
R-Run, rain, tree, hear, bear.
P-Pear, piece, pour, pink.
B-Baby, beg, bunk, bog, lobster.
M-May, mark, melon, mine.
W—Way, wear, wick, work.
P-Fair, fear, fine, furry.
V–Vain, vender, vine, vixen.
Th-This, thistle, through, thrush.
Th (hard)—Then, there, those, thus.
N--Nay, knee, night, now.
T-Table, tea, tie, tow.
D-Day, deed, did, dice, dose.
L-Lay, lie, lee, low.
G (soft) Ginger, George.
G (hard)Gave, give, gory, gun.
J- Jade, jibe, juice, justice.
2-Zinc, Zebidee, zebra, zounds.
R-Race, rich, rice, ruse.
K-Kate, Katherine, kind, kindred.
C-Care, candy, cunning.
X-Wax, mix, minx.
Br-Brace, bright, brick, brook.
Tr-Train, tremble, trip, trouble.
Gr-Grapes, grief, grind, grumble.
St-Stayed, stand, stick, stump.
Pl-Play, please, ply, plunder.
Ch-Chair, cheer, chore, chub.
Sh-Shay, shine, show, shun.
SI—Slay, sleep, slide, slumber.
Ph-Phase, phone, physics.

Plenty of time should be taken especially by the inexperienced in determining the letters, or combination of letters, with which the child has difficulty. The tests can be repeated. There may be difficulty with more than one sound. Since some of the letters above have the same sound (as ph and f), if one is difficult the other will also cause trouble.

Correction of Defeats

Faults of Substitution Granted that there is no difficulty in starting sounds or in proceeding normally to the next sound (stammering and stuttering), the training of the speech-defective child can proceed about as follows:

(a) The child should be given a special physical examination to determine whether there is any evident physical condition which has to do with his defective pronunciation. This should include, of course, the examination of the nose and throat, the teeth, the palate, the movements of the tongue, the vision, and hearing. Any defects of importance should be removed or given thorough treatment.

(b) General gymnastic training of the tongue and lips.-The tongue is the most important organ of pronunciation, and most of us would have better speech if we made more use of it. The following exercises for the tongue are recommended by Helen M. Peppard in her book, "The Correction of Speech Defects:"

1. Point the tongue outward and downward toward the chin.
2. Point the tongue outward and upward toward the nose, touching the nose if possible.

3. Wag the tip of the tongue up and down. In this exercise the tongue should be protruded between the lips. Turn the cip upward and then downward rapidly for eight counts.

4. Rotate the tongue around the outside of the mouth. (Suggest the idea of cleaning off the mouth after eating bread and jam.) Begin at the right corner of the mouth and start across the upper lip. Then begin at the left corner and go in the opposite direction.

5. Protrude the tongue and form a groove through the center by raising both sides. If the child has difficulty with this exercise let him place a clean stick on the center of his tongue and suck up the sides.

6. Curl the tip of the tongue back of the upper front teeth. The count is “up, down-up, down," etc. The mouth should remain open during the eight counts so that the tongue may perform the maximum amount of movement.

7. Press the tip of the tongue against the backs of the lower teeth. The command "press, let go," can be used. This exercise is particularly useful for the placing of the tongue for lispers.

Many children do not make sufficient use of their lips in speaking. The following exercise will help to make inactive lips more flexible.

1. Protrude the lips in a puckered position. 2. Raise the upper lip exposing upper teeth. This can be accomplished by telling the student to wrinkle up his nose. 3. Raise right side of upper lip. 4. Raise left side of upper lip. 5. Pull down lower lip, exposing lower teeth,

The pupil should be supplied with a small hand mirror by means of which he can observe his own performances.

As in exercises of other parts of the body, these for the tongue and lips should not be overdone; strength and skill in the manipulation of these organs should be gradually acquired.

(c) Acquiring the right methods of sound production.--After we have determined the letters or syllables with the pronunciation of which there is difficulty and after we have removed as far as possible any organic defects which may exist,


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »