What Is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a
speech disorder. It’s also called stammering or diffluent speech. It’s
- repeated words, sounds, or syllables
- halting speech
- uneven rate of speech
Stuttering affects about 5 percent of children aged 2 to 5,
according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication
Most children won’t continue to stutter in adulthood. Typically, as your
child’s development progresses, the stuttering will stop. Early intervention
can also help prevent stuttering in adulthood.
children, less than 1 percent, will continue to stutter as adults, according to
Also, if a child starts stuttering after the ages of 8 to 10, the stuttering
will most likely continue into adulthood.
What Are the Types of Stuttering?
There are three
types of stuttering:
- developmental: most common in
children younger than 5 years old as they develop their speech and language
abilities and usually resolves without treatment; more common in males
- neurogenic: caused by signal
abnormalities between the brain and nerves/muscles
- psychogenic: originates in the
part of the brain that governs thinking and reasoning
What Are the Symptoms of Stuttering?
characterized by repeated words, sounds, or syllables and disruptions in the
normal rate of speech. For example, a person may repeat the same consonant like
“K,” “G,” or “T.” They may have difficulty uttering certain sounds or starting
a sentence. The stress caused by stuttering may show up in the following
- physical changes like facial tics,
lip tremors, eye blinking, and tension in the face and upper body
- frustration when attempting to
- hesitation or pause before
starting to speak
- refusal to speak
- insertion of extra sounds or words
into sentences, such as “uh” or “um”
- repetition of words or phrases
- tension in the voice
- rearrangement of words in a
- making long sounds with words, such
as: “My name is Amaaaaaaanda”
Some children may
not be aware that they stutter.
Social settings and
high-stress environments can increase the likelihood that a person will
stutter. Public speaking can be terrifying for those who stutter.
What Causes Stuttering?
There are multiple
possible causes of stuttering. Some causes include:
- family history of stuttering
- family dynamics
- development during childhood
Brain injuries from
a stroke can cause neurogenic stuttering. Severe emotional trauma can cause
what's known as psychogenic stuttering.
Stuttering may run
in families because of an inherited abnormality in the part of the brain that
governs language. If you or your parents stuttered, your children may also
How Is Stuttering Diagnosed?
A speech language
pathologist can help diagnose stuttering. No invasive testing is necessary.
Typically, you or your child can describe stuttering symptoms, and a speech language
pathologist can evaluate the degree to which your child stutters.
How Is Stuttering Treated?
Not all children
who stutter will require treatment because developmental stuttering usually
resolves with time. Speech therapy is an option for some children.
Speech therapy can
reduce interruptions in speech and improve your child’s self-esteem. Therapy
often focuses on controlling speech patterns by encouraging your child to speak
in shorter sentences and at slower rates.
The best candidates
for speech therapy include those who:
- have stuttered for three to six
- have pronounced stuttering
- struggle with stuttering or
experience emotional difficulties because of stuttering
- have a family history of
also use therapeutic techniques to help their child feel less self-conscious
about stuttering. Listening patiently is important, as is setting aside the
time for talking. A speech therapist can help parents learn when it’s
appropriate to correct a child’s stuttering.
may be used to treat stuttering. One type encourages children to speak more
slowly by playing back a distorted recording of their voice when they speak
quickly. Other devices are worn, like hearing aids, and they can create
distracting background noise that’s known to help reduce stuttering. Over time
this type of device may become less effective.
There are no
medications that have been proven to reduce stuttering episodes. Alternative
therapies like acupuncture, electric brain stimulation, and breathing
techniques also don’t appear to be effective.
Whether or not you
decide to seek treatment, creating a low-stress environment can help reduce stuttering. Support
groups for you and your child also are available.