Stuttering: Fumbling With the Normal Flow of Speech
Speech: A Complex Process
What Does Stuttering Sound Like?
- Frequent sound and syllable repetition
- Syllable repetition in which an "uh" vowel replaces the correct vowel in the word ("puh-puh-peach rather than "pe-pe-peach")
- Frequent prolongations of sounds that become longer in duration
- Tremors (trembling of muscles) around the mouth and jaw during speech
- Rises in the pitch or loudness of the voice during the prolongation of sounds
- Tension and struggling while saying certain words
- A look of fear on the child's face while saying a word
- Avoidance of or delay in saying certain words
What Causes Stuttering?
- Development—As mentioned earlier, rapid development of language during the preschool years is a common cause. The child has many thoughts to express and is quickly making decisions about the appropriate words to use that will correctly communicate what he wishes to say. This is often referred to as developmental stuttering, which is often outgrown.
- Coordination—Another reason is a lack of coordination in the movement of the lips, tongue, jaw, and vocal cords, causing them to miss the rapid movements required for speech. This can be due to a lack of maturity and can also be outgrown, or can be caused by a neurogenic disorder.
- Genetics—There is some speculation that a predisposition to stuttering is genetic. Some research indicates that stuttering tends to be more prominent within certain families.
- Parenting—A common misconception is that poor parenting or a negative home environment causes stuttering. There is no evidence that the way a child is raised is the cause. However, stuttering can be affected by the way people respond to the stutterer and the child's anxiety concerning his stuttering.
- Stress—Although stress does not cause stuttering, existing stuttering can be aggravated by stressful circumstances. When a child feels pressure to perform, find the correct words, construct appropriate sentences, and coordinate their speech muscles to form words, they are likely to be disfluent in their speech.
- Provide a relaxed environment for communication.
- Speak slowly and easily, without tension.
- Use consistent and direct eye contact when your child is speaking.
- Do not discuss your child's stuttering with others when your conversation can be overheard.
- Pause for a short time before responding to your child's comments. This provides time for him to say something else without feeling rushed.
- Avoid interruptions and do not complete your child's sentence.
- Set aside at least a few minutes each day to talk one-on-one with your child.
- Avoid criticism or direction when your child speaks, such as "Slow down and think about what you want to say."
- Avoid having them speak to perform, such as "Tell grandma what you are learning in school." Allow the child to initiate the conversation.
The National Stuttering Association http://www.nsastutter.org/
The Stuttering Foundation http://www.stuttersfa.org/
Canadian Stuttering Association http://www.stutter.ca/
Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research http://www.istar.ualberta.ca/
Stuttering. KidsHealth website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/ears/stutter.html. Updated October 2010. Accessed December 12, 2011.
Stuttering info. National Stuttering Institute website. Available at: http://www.nsastutter.org/stutteringInformation/generalInformation.html. Accessed December 12, 2011.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 12/2011 -
- Update Date: 12/12/2011 -