Stuttering is a speech disorder marked by disruptions in the normal flow of speech. These disruptions, referred to as disfluencies, often include the following:
- sound repetitions or parts of words repetitions
- prolongation of speech sounds, syllables or words
- use of fillers (“um”, “like”)
- laryngeal blocks (difficulty initiating sound)
This disorder mostly begins in childhood at an early age, and its exact cause remains unknown. While younger children do not really pay attention to their disfluencies, school children become increasingly more aware of their problems and people’s reactions to it. Fluency might also differ during particular activities or in different environments.
In most cases, stuttering has an impact on daily activities at home, school, or work. The impact depends on how the person and their environment react to the disorder.
Stuttering, also known as stammering, is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. The term stuttering is most commonly associated with involuntary sound repetition, but it also encompasses the abnormal hesitation or pausing before speech, referred to by people who stutter as blocks, and the prolongation of certain sounds, usually vowels or semivowels. According to Watkins et al., stuttering is a disorder of selection, initiation, and execution of motor sequences necessary for fluent speech production. For many people who stutter, repetition is the primary problem.
An assessment is performed, calculating the number and types of disfluencies a person has in a variety of situations. The effect this dysfunction has on the person’s ability to communicate and participate appropriately in daily activities is evaluated. A particular treatment plan is designed based on this information. Treatment focuses on changing speech behaviors and emotions/attitudes towards speaking and communication.
Stuttering Improvements Include
- decreasing frequency of stuttering
- reducing tension during stuttering events
- identifying and decreasing word avoidance and/or avoidance of “triggering” situations
- examining and becoming aware of thoughts and feelings about this problem
- maximizing effective communication
The amount of stuttering therapy and length of treatment depend on the severity of the disorder, the client’s personal goals that are set at the assessment.