Fluency / Stuttering


        Stuttering is the condition in which the flow of speech is broken by abnormal stops (no sound), repetitions (st-st-stuttering), or prolongations (ssssstuttering) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. Almost all children go through a stage of frequent nonfluency in early speech development. Adults may interject syllables ("uh") and occasionally repeat words, phrases and sounds, but these nonfluencies are accepted as normal and usually are not a cause for concern. We still do not know for a fact what causes stuttering. It may have different causes in different people, or it may occur only when a combination of factors comes together. Possible influences include incoordination of the speech muscles; rate of language development; the way parents and others talk to the child; and other forms of communication and life stress. In general, there is no reason to believe that emotional trauma causes stuttering. Stuttering typically begins at a very early age (usually between 2 and 5 years), but will occasionally appear for the first time in a school-age child and, more rarely, in an adult. Most children outgrow their nonfluency, but others will not. The problem of stuttering may be prevented from developing if treated early enough.

         Children may be unaware that they are speaking nonfluently. It is important to listen patiently and carefully to what the child is saying, and do not focus on how it is being said. There are a variety of successful approaches for treating both children and adults who stutter. There are no published scientific data that indicate the general superiority of any one of these approaches. However, it is best to avoid thinking in terms of an absolute "cure" for stuttering. Stuttering is not a disease. The goal should be to progress toward improved fluency and success in communicating.