What is Stuttering?
Stuttering is so common that everyone knows what it sounds like and can easily recognize it. Everyone has probably had moments of stuttering at least once in their life. It should not be confused with cluttering.
Most people don’t know that stuttering can also include non-verbal involuntary or semi-voluntary actions like blinking or abdominal tensing (tics). Speech language pathologists are trained to look for all the symptoms of stuttering, especially the non-verbal ones, and that is why an SLP is qualified to make a stuttering diagnosis.
The earliest this fluency disorder can become apparent is when a child is learning to talk. It may also surface later during childhood. Rarely if ever has it developed in adults, although many adults have kept a stutter from childhood.
Stuttering only becomes a problem when it has an impact on daily activities, or when it causes concern to parents or the child suffering from it. Stuttering can make it difficult to communicate with other people, which often affects a person’s quality of life and interpersonal relationships. Stuttering can also negatively influence job performance and opportunities, and treatment can come at a high financial cost.
What are the cause of Stuttering?
The precise mechanisms that cause stuttering are not understood. Stuttering is commonly grouped into two types termed developmental and neurogenic.
Developmental stuttering occurs in young children while they are still learning speech and language skills. Neurogenic stuttering may occur after a stroke, head trauma, or other type of brain injury.
Possible causes can include the following:
- Family history. Many people who stutter have a family member who also stutters
- Brain differences. People may have small differences in the way the brain works during speech
Triggers often precede a stuttering episode, and SLPs can help people recognize and cope with these triggers ahead of time.
How is stuttering diagnosed?
Stuttering is usually diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist. The SLP will consider a variety of factors, including the child’s history, an analysis of the child’s stuttering behaviors, and will also test your child’s speech and language. This includes listening to how your child says sounds and words. The SLP will test how well your child understands what others say and how well she uses words to talk about her thoughts.
How is Stuttering treated?
Although there is currently no cure for stuttering, there are a variety of treatments available. The nature of the treatment will differ, based upon a person’s age, communication goals, and other factors. If you or your child stutters, it is important to work with a speech-language pathologist to determine the best treatment options.
Treatment will depend on any or all of the following:
- Your child’s speech and language skills
- How much your child stutters
- How your child reacts when she stutters
- How stuttering impacts your child’s everyday life
- How others react to your child when he stutters
For children who are 2–6 years old, treatment may focus on either of these two things:
- Direct strategies—Working with your child to change how he/she speaks
- Indirect strategies—Slowing down your own speech and asking fewer questions
You are an important part of your child’s treatment. The SLP can help you learn more about
- How to respond when your child stutters
- Changes you can make to improve your child’s fluency
- What to do to improve how your child feels about talking