WHAT IS STUTTERING?
Stuttering is a communication disorder involving the disruptions in the forward flow of speech. These disruptions are moments when the person has difficulty getting his words out. Typically, these disruptions consist of repetitions, in which part of the word or the whole word may be repeated (“li-li-li-like this”), prolongations, where a sound is stretched out (“llllllike this”) or blocks, where no sound comes out at all (l------ike this”).
A person who stutters may exhibit one of these or a combination of any two or all three characteristics.
WHAT IS A SECONDARY BEHAVIOR?
Often, people who stutter try to do something to “fix” their speech. They may tense their muscles, tap their foot or blink their eyes in an effort to push their words out. These facial and body movements are called secondary behaviors.
WHAT CAUSES STUTTERING?
Despite decades of research, there are no clear-cut answers to the causes of stuttering. Clinicians and researchers have learned a lot about what does and does not cause stuttering. We know it is not caused by a psychological problem. It is not an emotional problem and it is not caused by over-protective parents. We also know that there are many things that listeners, parents and family members can all do to help the child speak more fluently and some things that we know does not help. Today, it is widely accepted that there is no single cause of stuttering. It is thought to be caused by several different factors that interact with one another.
Examples of the factors that may contribute to a child’s development of stuttering include:
- motoric ability (the child’s ability to move their mouth in the rapid and exact manner needed for speaking)
- linguistic ability (the child’s ability to put words or sentences together)
- temperament (the way a child tends to react to events in his environment or within himself)
- environment (situations or events taking place within the child’s life)
In addition, research has shown that stuttering tends to run in families. There does seem to be a genetic aspect to the cause of stuttering.
HOW MANY PEOPLE STUTTER?
Over 3 million Americans stutter. About one percent of adults and three percent of children stutter.
WHAT IS THE RATIO OF MALES TO FEMALES WHO STUTTER?
Three to one. Boys are three times more likely to stutter than girls.
WHY DOES STUTTERING SEEM TO COME AND GO?
At present, we do not completely understand the source of the variability of stuttering. The amount of stuttering, how he stutters, and how much tension he has when he stutters can vary from week to week, from day to day and even from situation to situation. We do know that it is normal and that nearly all people who stutter experience it. There are many factors that affect whether someone will produce disfluencies at a particular time. For example, someone may be more disfluent when they are sick, tired, excited, or nervous. These internal and external factors do not completely predict a child’s stuttering, but you may be able to identify some of the conditions that influence your child’s production of speech disfluencies by observing situations and conditions that decrease or increase their stuttering.
CAN STUTTERING BE TREATED?
Yes, there are a variety of successful approaches for treating children and adults who stutter. Early intervention is highly recommended. With appropriate early intervention, research has shown recovery rates of at least 80%. Treatment in adolescents and adults involves teaching them techniques to give them better control of their speech, as well as coping techniques to deal with the stutter.