Stuttering, also known as stammering, is a speech disorder characterized by disruptions or interruptions in the normal flow of speech. People who stutter may have difficulty producing fluent speech, and their speech may be characterized by repetitions of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases; prolongations of sounds; and blocks or pauses where they struggle to initiate or continue speech.
Characteristics of stuttering include:
Repetitions of syllables (e.g., “I-I-I want to go outside”)
Repetition of monosyllabic word (ex: Why-Why-Why was she late?)
Prolongations of sounds within words (e.g., sssssssaying “ssssnake”)
Blocks, which are pauses in speech that may be accompanied by a feeling of tightness or tension in the face or chest.
Other overt stuttering behaviors include:
Tensing of the face or upper body;
Avoidance behaviors, such as eye blinks or head turns;
Frequent use of fillers, such as “um” or “you know”;
Escape behaviors, such as rapid speech or changing topics.
What causes stuttering?
The exact cause of stuttering is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Stuttering tends to run in families, so there is likely a genetic component. In terms of the environment, things like stress or anxiety can trigger or worsen stuttering.
Prevalence of stuttering.
Stuttering affects about 5% of the population. It is four times more common in boys than girls. Studies show that stuttering is between two and five times more common in certain ethnic group.
Psychological Effect on People with Stuttering.
Stuttering can have a profound effect on a person’s life, impacting everything from employment opportunities to social interactions. Because of the way stuttering can make a person feel, it is often associated with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Research has shown that early intervention can help people who stutter overcome these negative feelings and lead more successful, fulfilling lives. If you suspect your child may be experiencing some of the symptoms of stuttering, seek out the help of a speech therapist as soon as possible.