What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech
problem in which people may repeat, draw out, not complete, or skip words or
sounds without meaning to. The problem can range from mild to severe.
Stuttering is normal in young children around ages 2 through 7 years.
Stuttering that starts during a child's early language-learning years and goes
away on its own sometime before puberty is called normal disfluency. It is a
normal part of language development.
Stuttering that lasts or gets
worse over time is called developmental stuttering. It can be embarrassing and
hard to deal with. This type of stuttering probably won't get better without
What causes stuttering?
Stuttering happens when
the brain is not able to send and receive messages in the normal way. Doctors
don't know why this happens.
Stuttering may run in the family. It
may be triggered by things like
stress or a
In rare cases, stuttering may be caused by brain
damage, such as after a head injury or
What are the symptoms?
People who stutter
- Repeat sounds, parts of words, and sometimes
- Pause between words or within a word.
- Choose simple words instead of those that are harder to speak.
- Show tension or discomfort while talking.
- Use only
parts of phrases.
- Add "uh" or "um" in the middle of a
- Add words or phrases that are not related.
Stuttering often gets worse at stressful times, such as
during public speaking. It often does not occur during other activities, such
as singing, whispering, talking while alone or to pets, or reading aloud with a
How is stuttering diagnosed?
speech-language pathologist can usually diagnose
stuttering by having the child read aloud. The pathologist may videotape or
record the child talking or may check speech patterns in other ways.
Doctors may do a physical exam to rule out other health problems, such as
hearing problems, which can affect speech development.
If you are
an adult who has started to stutter, see your doctor. Stuttering that starts in
an adult is most often linked to an injury, a health problem, or severe
emotional trauma. To diagnose the problem, the doctor will do a physical exam,
ask you some questions, and watch and listen to you speak.
How is it treated?
When it begins in early
childhood, stuttering tends to go away on its own. Even if the speech problem
is not expected to last long, treatment can help. Treatment often includes
speech therapy for the child and counseling for the parents.
Parent counseling teaches parents and other caregivers about how speech
develops. You learn how to relate to your child in a positive way. It also
shows you how to help your child at home by using proper eye contact and body
language when your child is trying to talk to you.