Speech Easy

By Phil Rainier - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some people with stuttering problems say a new tool has been life-changing for them, but doctors say it is not a cure for the speech impediment.

Casie Riche' of Zachary says for as long as she can remember, she's stuttered. "I got a lot of negative effects from kids at school," she said. "I got made fun of." That is until she met Holly Strange, a speech therapist who fitted Casie with the latest generation of a device called the Speech Easy.

The device helps stutterers by using delayed auditory feedback. "Delayed auditory feedback is taking what you say and playing it back to yourself with a delay and these delays are milliseconds," said Strange. The technique helps stutterers because most lack the ability to monitor their own speech.

However, it hasn't always been a long-term solution. In the past, many users got so used to the delay they began tuning it out and started stuttering again. Speech Easy can now be programmed with computers so there's not only an audible delay. It also plays sound back at higher or lower frequencies that are harder to get accustomed to.

The device requires some effort from the user, despite how good it appears to work. "It does its job. It doesn't do its job unless you listen to it. I need to practice," Casie said during a follow-up exam with her speech therapist. The Speech Easy is not a cure for stuttering and even with the latest enhancements, it does not help everyone. "Some people it helps more, some a little less," said Strange.

After it is programmed, the device is completely wireless and unlike earlier models, this generation is so tiny that it's hardly noticeable. That's another reason why for people like Casie, the Speech Easy has been nothing short of life-changing.

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