What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a complex set of behaviours that may involve repeating sounds, syllables or words, prolonging sounds, blocking or hesitating, and avoiding or substituting words. Stuttering is a speech disorder in which pronunciation of the (usually) first letter or syllable of a word is repeated involuntarily. This normally happens with phonemes beginning with /p/, /b/ or some other plosive consonant. Stuttering is an involuntary process which hinders normal communication.
Although there are some self-help techniques which can be taught, and which help some affected people, the person stuttering cannot stop the process, and anxiousness or nervousness often escalates the problem. In British English the term stammering is used to mean the stumbling and hesitation over words or syllables while the term stuttering is used for the repetitious speech described above.
One of the most astounding facts about stuttering is that any one person's stutter appears to be different from any other person's stutter. One person would stutter only on certain words, another would stutter more severely. The person who does not stutter very much will probably have periods when he stutters often, whereas the severe stutterer may experience periods when he stutters noticeably less. Some people stutter when they are talking but not when they are reading aloud; others stutter both when speaking and reading. Some would repeat certain sounds (usually initial sounds) several times, or prolong certain sounds before the word is said. Others may experience complete "blocks" when no sound is coming out at all. During these blocks, some may exhale strenuously and voicelessly, without being able to overcome the block. Apart from these apparent differences between stutterers, there are often several other features added to the speech production. These may consist of gestures or movements of various kinds, such as jerking the head or throwing it backwards or forwards, clenching the fists, twisting or stamping a foot, slapping the knee with the hand, licking the lips, nasal snorts or sniffs, closing the eyes, et cetera. It is especially such oddities as these, which people find irritating when listening to a stutterer and which cause the most embarrassment to the stutterer himself.
There may be other secondary behaviours associated with stuttering such as excessive muscle tension in the face, neck, back or stomach. Distortion of the face can occur with grimacing, frowning, etc. There may be unusual movements of the head or limbs. There are as many different patterns of dysfluent behaviour as there are people who stutter.
Stuttering, especially in adults, can be accompanied by emotional embarrassment, distress and frustration. People who stutter often avoid speaking situations, because of the associated fears and distress, e.g. talking on the telephone. People who stutter may avoid choosing a career in which they believe their stuttering will become obvious or be a handicap.
As with many behavioral disorders of childhood, stuttering occurs three to four times more often in boys than in girls. The reason for the difference between sexes is not known. In early childhood, stuttering is sometimes part of normal speech development. In fact, about 5 percent of all young children go through a brief period of stuttering when they are learning to talk. Stuttering typically is first noticed between the ages of 2 and 5, though sometimes it can be noted as early as 18 months. It usually goes away on its own within a matter of months. However, one in five children who stutter will have a more persistent form that continues later in childhood and may even last into adulthood. Girls and boys are equally likely to stutter during childhood, but boys are more likely to continue to stutter beyond childhood.
Stuttering is a problem with the timing of speech. People who stutter have difficulty moving from one sound to the next in a word, or have difficulty getting sound started after it has stopped. The late Charles Van Riper defined stuttering as "when the forward flow of speech is interrupted by a motorically disrupted sound, syllable, or word, or by the speaker's reactions thereto." Stuttering is not a problem with producing speech sounds, putting thoughts into words, or retrieving words. Most often the person who stutters knows precisely what s/he wants to say and knows how to say it but can't get the words out smoothly because of involuntary repetitions, prolongations, or blockages in the forward flow of speech.
The prevalence of stuttering varies with age. The disorder occurs in 3.0 to 5.0 percent of preschool-aged children and in 0.7 to 1.0 percent of the general population (excluding preschool-aged children). Stuttering is more prevalent in children because of the high incidence of developmental dysfluency in this population. Developmental dysfluency results in brief periods of stuttering that cease by the time a child enters school.
More information on stuttering
What is stuttering? - Stuttering is a complex set of behaviours that may involve repeating sounds, syllables or words, prolonging sounds, blocking or hesitating, and avoiding or substituting words.
What types of stuttering are there? - There are several types of stuttering, including developmental stuttering, neurogenic stuttering, and psychogenic stuttering.
What is developmental stuttering? - Developmental stuttering generally occurs because a child's neurological system is not ready for all of the language that they are trying to say.
What is neurogenic stuttering? - Neurogenic stuttering is a signal problem between the brain and the nerves or muscles controlling speech. Neurogenic stuttering has repetitions, prolongations, and blocks.
What is psychogenic stuttering? - Psychogenic stuttering is originates in the area of the brain that directs thought and reasoning. Psychogenic stuttering is rare.
What causes stuttering? - Although the exact cause of stuttering is not known, there are three leading theories that propose how stuttering develops.
What're the symptoms of stuttering? - Symptoms of stuttering speech include repetition of sounds, prolongation , or stretching, of sounds or syllables, related behaviors.
What're the treatment for stuttering? - The goal of stuttering treatment is to focus on relearning how to speak, or to unlearn incorrect ways of speaking.
What's the stuttering therapy for child? - Treatment for stuttering is much more effective in childhood. Some children appear to recover from stuttering without any intervention.
How to prevent stuttering? - Locations of genes that predispose people to stuttering. Speech therapy can stop the progression of stuttering.
What is stammering? - Stammering is a communication disorder in which the normal flow of speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations, or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables.