“Stuttering” is a disruption in the fluency – or smoothness – of speech. The word “stammering” is used in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world to describe the same behaviours. The technical term for it is dysfluency. Dysfluency may appear in several forms (listed below). Each can occur on its own or with another. Also, dysfluencies can occur with tension/tightness in the face and neck along with movements of specific parts of the face.
Stuttering can appear as
Repetitions of single sounds, syllables or words and/or
Lengthening of a sound (generally at the beginning of a word or phrase) and/or
Long pauses (blocks) between words
In the early years, dysfluency is a normal part of speech and language development. How many times have you come across a preschooler who says something like “but I, but I, but I, but I WANT it!”? Frequently, even adults repeat words or interject sounds all the time within a sentence. I bet everyone reading this has said “um,” “ah,” or “like” several times within a sentence while chatting with a friend. Keep in mind, though, that not all children and adults do this with the same frequency.
A fluency disorder is typically identified when the dysfluency has become severe enough to be disruptive to interactions and negatively affects daily activities or relationships. In children, concerns arise when dysfluencies occur for longer than expected, and at higher frequency and severity compared to what happens normally during development. There is no known cure for fluency disorders, but strategies taught and coached by a Speech-Language Pathologist have shown great results in improving fluency. These strategies aren’t mumbo-jumbo, like in the movie The King’s Speech…they are supported by a vast body of research compiled over decades.
It is extremely important to not jump to conclusions about whether or not a disorder is present or to try to remedy the speech problem on your own. Many people with good intentions make dysfluency worse by providing what they feel is good advice. Your Speech-Language Pathologist is the person best trained to identify a fluency disorder and teach the strategies to best reduce the speech dysfluencies you or your loved one is experiencing.
Call us or visit our referral page if you have concerns about dysfluency/stuttering.