Stuttering

Stuttering is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is interrupted by: In an attempt to speak, the person who is stuttering may:

  • Causes

    The cause of stuttering is not completely understood. Some experts have suggested that stuttering may occur when:

    • A child's ability to speak does not match his verbal demands
    • There are psychological factors in a child’s life such as mental illness, extreme stress
    • Problems occur in the connections between muscles, nerves, and areas of the brain that control speech
    • There are problems in the part of the brain that controls the timing of speech muscle activation
    Muscles and Nerves Involved in Speech
    Tongue Innervation
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  • Definition

    Stuttering is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is interrupted by:

    • Repetition or prolongation of sounds, words, or syllables
    • An inability to begin a word

    In an attempt to speak, the person who is stuttering may:

    • Frequently blink the eyes
    • Have abnormal facial or upper body movements

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis may be based on:

    • Stuttering history
    • Circumstances under which stuttering occurs
    • Speech and language capabilities
    • Evaluation of hearing and motor skills, including a pediatric and neurological examination
    • Further testing and treatment by a speech language pathologist who specializes in communication disorders

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines to prevent stuttering. However, early recognition and treatment may minimize or prevent a life-long problem.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of developing stuttering include:

    • Family history of stuttering
    • Sex: male
    • Age: between 2-6 years of age

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Repetition of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases
    • Prolongation of sounds within words
    • Between-word pauses and lack of sound
    • Spurting speech

    • Accompanying behaviors, such as:

      • Blinking
      • Facial ticks
      • Lip tremors
      • Tense muscles of the mouth, jaw, or neck
    • Worsening symptoms when speaking in public
    • Improvement in symptoms when speaking in private

  • Treatment

    Treatment can improve stuttering. The main goal is to get and maintain a feeling of control over speech fluency. The doctor or speech therapist can:

    • Evaluate the stuttering pattern
    • Assess what strategies may work best

    Treatment may include:

    • Behavioral therapy—This focuses on behavior modifications that can be made to improve fluency.
    • Speech therapy—A primary goal of this type of therapy is to slow the rate of speech.

    There is little evidence to support the use of drugs to improve speech fluency.