What is Stuttering?

Stuttering, sometimes called stammering, is one of the most common childhood speech disorders. it affects many adults as well. It can take a few different forms, all of which share similar treatments and causes.

It’s still not entirely understood how stutters interrupt speech on a neurological level, but it is known to have genetic, environmental, brain trauma, and emotional trauma causes.

What are the Symptoms of Stuttering?

A stutter may come and go, affect a person’s every sentence, or become episodic in response to stress levels or other triggers. The most common symptoms of a stutter are:

  • Difficulty pronouncing or finishing certain words
  • Partial pronunciation with a repeat of a specific letter or sound
  • Extended letters, especially the letter S, at the beginning or end of words
  • The insertion of pause words, such as um and like, in the middle of sentences
  • Pauses in speech as the person attempts and fails to pronounce the next sound

Stuttering Causes

Stuttering can be caused by genetics and a lack of speech motor control. It can also result from traumatic brain injury, stroke or other brain disorders that can cause slow speech, repeated sounds or pauses. When you’re feeling emotional distress, this can also trigger a change in speech. A lack of fluency is usually the result. Whenever you’re nervous or overwhelmed, this can cause stuttering.

If you have a family history of stuttering, you may be at risk of developmental or other types of stuttering. Stuttering can also be caused by family dynamics, your neurophysiology, and your development during childhood. Neurogenic stuttering occurs when your brain is injured from a strok

How is Stuttering Treated?

Adults who find their stutter does not impede their communication skills or affect their self-esteem often choose not to treat their speech disorder. For children, speech therapy is the most commonly prescribed treatment for cases of stutter that last longer than a few weeks or months at a time.

Speech therapy is also helpful for episodic cases. If there’s a problem with the mouth or palate, such as a cleft lip or overcrowded jaw, surgery may be necessary to restore the patient’s ability to make a full range of letter sounds.

Stuttering Prevention

While studies continue regarding treatment and prevention, there are some ways you can prevent yourself from stuttering. Limiting stress is one way to prevent it. Any kind of familial stress, such as high expectations from parents, can cause stuttering to worsen.

Parents should listen to their child, giving him or her their full attention (meaning eye contact) and waiting patiently for them to say what they have to say, and speaking in a slow, unhurried tone of voice. This helps the child to mimic speech and may help them decrease their stuttering.

Make sure to take turns talking, avoiding interrupting each other. Take the time to talk to your child during dinner, limiting any distractions. Remain calm and relaxed and keep your home environment the same. Encourage your child to speak comfortably and freely. Praise them, rather than criticize them and try not to focus on their stuttering too much. Drawing too much attention to it could trigger a stuttering episode.

Do your best to accept your child’s flaw and refrain from punishing him or her for stuttering. Also, try to react positively or not at all when he or she has an episode.

Last Reviewed:
October 11, 2016
Last Updated:
November 28, 2017