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Stuttering - Exams and Tests

Your health professional or a speech-language pathologist diagnoses stuttering by asking questions about your child's speech irregularities and assessing his or her risk factors for stuttering.

Diagnosing stuttering usually also includes:

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  • A history of your child's development. This includes identifying when developmental milestones were reached and if overall physical and thinking (cognitive) skills are normal for your child's age.
  • Hearing tests. Hearing problems can affect how well a child pronounces words and uses language to communicate.
  • Speech and language tests. These are useful in helping a speech-language pathologist identify and assess the severity of irregular speech patterns. A child's speech is evaluated while he or she reads a prepared sample or engages in conversation. A child may also be videotaped talking in different settings.

Your child's doctor is likely to do a physical exam to find out whether another condition is causing or occurring along with stuttering.

This process helps your doctor determine whether irregular speech is a type of normal disfluency, which usually resolves on its own, or a form of developmental stuttering, which requires treatment. In many cases, the child will be referred to a speech-language pathologist to fully assess the child's speech.

Speech problems that are not normal for your child's age may be diagnosed as developmental stuttering. General indications of developmental stuttering include:

  • Having three or more speech-related problems (such as trouble starting words; repeating parts of words, sounds, or syllables; prolonging parts of a word; or visibly attempting to speak but producing no sound).
  • Avoiding or escaping certain words or sounds. This may include pauses or interjections such as "uh" and "um."
  • Appearing tense and uncomfortable when speaking. This may include grimacing, eye-blinking, head-nodding, and other nervous mannerisms.

Stuttering in adulthood

If you begin to stutter for the first time as an adult, visit your health professional. Be ready to answer questions about your general health and whether you have recently been injured. Your health professional will try to determine whether brain injury is present, such as from an accident or a stroke. If there is a possible relationship, you may be referred to a neurologist.

You may also be referred to a psychiatrist if recent emotional trauma or other mental health problems may be affecting your speech.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 13, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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