What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder in which sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or prolonged, disrupting the normal flow of speech. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by struggling behaviors, such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips. Stuttering can make it difficult to communicate with other people, which often affects a person’s quality of life. People who suffer stutter know what they want to say, but it is difficult to express it by word. For example, they may repeat or prolong a word, syllable or phrase, or stop during speech and make no sound for certain syllables.
Stuttering is common among young children as a normal part of learning to speak. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren’t developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow this developmental stuttering. However, stuttering is sometimes a chronic condition that persists into adulthood. This type of stuttering can have an impact on self-esteem and interactions with other people.
How common is stuttering?
Stuttering affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of Stuttering?
The common symptoms of Stuttering are:
- Difficulty starting a word, sentence or phrase;
- Prolonging a word or sounds within a word;
- Repetition of a sound, syllable or word;
- Brief silence for certain syllables or pauses within a word (broken word);
- Addition of extra words such as “um” if difficulty moving to the next word is anticipated;
- Excess tension, tightness or movement of the face or upper body to produce a word;
- Anxiety about talking;
- Limited ability to effectively communicate.
The speech difficulties of stuttering may be accompanied by:
- Rapid eye blinks;
- Tremors of the lips or jaw;
- Facial tics;
- Head jerks;
- Clenching fists.
Stuttering may be worse when you’re excited, tired or under stress, or when you feel self-conscious, hurried or pressured. Situations such as speaking in front of a group or talking on the phone can be particularly difficult for people who stutter.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Lasts more than six months;
- Occurs with other speech or language problems;
- Becomes more frequent or continues as the child grows older;
- Occurs with muscle tightening or visible struggling to speak;
- Affects the ability to effectively communicate at school, work or in social interactions;
- Causes anxiety or emotional problems, such as fear or avoidance of situations where speaking is required;
- Begins as an adult.
What causes stuttering?
Researchers are still studying the underlying causes of persistent stuttering. A combination of factors may be involved. Possible causes of persistent stuttering include:
- Abnormalities in speech motor control: Some evidence indicates that abnormalities in speech motor control, such as timing, sensory and motor coordination, are implicated.
- Genetics: Stuttering tends to run in families. It appears that stuttering can result from inherited (genetic) abnormalities in the language centers of the brain.
- Medical conditions: Stuttering can sometimes result from a stroke, trauma or other brain injury.
- Mental health problems: In rare, isolated cases, emotional trauma can lead to stuttering.
What increases my risk for stuttering?
There are many risk factors for Stuttering, such as:
- Having relatives who stutter: Stuttering tends to run in families.
- Delayed childhood development: Children who have developmental delays or other speech problems may be more likely to stutter.
- Being male: Males are much more likely to stutter than females are.
- Stress: Stress in the family, high parental expectations or other types of pressure can worsen existing stuttering.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is stuttering diagnosed?
A speech-language pathologist can usually diagnose stuttering by having the child read aloud. The pathologist may film or record the child talking or may check speech patterns in other ways. Your child may also need a physical exam and other tests to rule out health problems that affect speech development, such as hearing problems.
If you are an adult who has started to stutter, see your doctor. Stuttering that starts in an adult is most often linked to an injury, a health problem, or severe emotional trauma. To diagnose the problem, the doctor will do a physical exam, ask you some questions, and watch and listen to you speak.
How is stuttering treated?
Treatment for stuttering often includes counseling for the parents and speech therapy for the child. The main goal of treatment is to help your child learn to speak as smoothly as possible.
Due to the reason that varying individual issues and needs, a method or combination of methods that’s helpful for one person may not be as effective for another. A few examples of treatment approaches — in no particular order of effectiveness — include:
- Controlled fluency: This type of speech therapy teaches you to slow down your speech and learn to notice when you stutter. You may speak very slowly and deliberately when beginning this type of speech therapy, but over time, you can work up to a more natural speech pattern.
- Electronic devices: Several electronic devices are available. Delayed auditory feedback requires you to slow your speech or the speech will sound distorted through the machine. Another method mimics your speech so that it sounds as if you’re talking in unison with someone else. Some small electronic devices are worn during daily activities.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of psychological counseling can help you learn to identify and change ways of thinking that might make stuttering worse. It can also help you resolve underlying stress, anxiety or self-esteem problems related to stuttering.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Stuttering?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help your child cope with Stuttering:
- Listen attentively to your child: Maintain natural eye contact when he or she speaks.
- Waiting for your child to say the word he or she is trying to say: Don’t jump in to complete the sentence or thought.
- Setting aside time when you can talk to your child without distractions: Mealtimes can provide a good opportunity for conversation.
- Slowly speak, in an unhurried way: If you speak in this way, your child will often do the same, which may help decrease stuttering.
- Taking turns talking: Encourage everyone in your family to be a good listener and to take turns talking.
- Strive for calm: Do your best to create a relaxed, calm atmosphere at home in which your child feels comfortable speaking freely.
- Do not focus on your child’s stuttering: Try not to draw attention to the stuttering during daily interactions. Don’t expose your child to situations that create a sense of urgency, pressure or a need to rush or that require your child to speak in front of others.
- Offering praise rather than criticism: It’s better to praise your child for speaking clearly than to draw attention to stuttering. If you do correct your child’s speech, do so in a gentle, positive way.
- Accepting your child just as he or she is: Do not react negatively or criticize or punish your child for stuttering. This can add to feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness. Support and encouragement can make a big difference.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Stuttering – Topic Overview. http://www.webmd.com/children/tc/stuttering-topic-overview#2. Accessed October 10 , 2016.
Stuttering: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stuttering/basics/definition/con-20032854. Accessed October 10, 2016.
Stuttering: http://www.medicinenet.com/stuttering/article.htm. Accessed October 10, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017