Stuttering is common among young children as a normal part of learning to speak. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren’t developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow this developmental stuttering.
Sometimes, however, stuttering is a chronic condition that persists into adulthood. This type of stuttering can have an impact on self-esteem and interactions with other people.
Children and adults who stutter may benefit from treatments such as speech therapy, using electronic devices to improve speech fluency or cognitive behavioral therapy.
Stuttering — also called stammering or childhood-onset fluency disorder — is a speech disorder that involves frequent and significant problems with normal fluency and flow of speech. People who stutter know what they want to say, but have difficulty saying it. For example, they may repeat or prolong a word, a syllable, or a consonant or vowel sound. Or they may pause during speech because they’ve reached a problematic word or sound.
Types of stuttering in speech.
There are many types of stuttering, here is a list of the most prominent ones:
1. Developmental stuttering.
Developmental stuttering is the most common type of stuttering, most often seen in children in early childhood, especially children aged 18 to 24 months.
It is believed that genetics and genetics play a role in raising the chances of developing this type of stuttering, and the child often recovers from this type of stuttering over time without the need for any treatment.
But the following things may increase the chances of stuttering becoming a long-term problem in the child:
▪️ Age at which the problem appeared: If a child’s stuttering begins after he reaches the age of 3.5, recovering from stuttering may be more difficult.
▪️ How long the problem persists in the child: If it is noticed that the child continues to stutter for a period of more than 6 continuous months, the chances of recovery from stuttering decrease.
▪️ The child has disorders and other speech problems: If the condition is accompanied by other speech disorders, the chances of recovery from stuttering are less.
2. Nervous stutter.
This type of stuttering usually arises as a result of a person’s exposure to a health problem in his nervous system that may have negatively affected the part responsible for coordinating speech in the brain, such as the following health problems:
▪️ stroke .
▪️ Accident or trauma to the head.
▪️ meningitis ;
▪️ Parkinson’s disease.
3. Emotional stuttering.
Emotional stuttering is a rare type of stuttering, and some scientists believe that severe psychological trauma may stimulate stuttering, but others believe that psychological problems may worsen the situation in people who stutter from the original, but it cannot stimulate the emergence of stuttering in a healthy person.
Here are some types of psychological problems that can make stuttering worse:
▪️ anxiety .
▪️ Low levels of self-confidence.
Stuttering signs and symptoms may include:
▪️ Difficulty starting a word, phrase or sentenceProlonging a word or sounds within a word.
▪️ Repetition of a sound, syllable or word.
▪️ Brief silence for certain syllables or words,or pauses within a word (broken word).
▪️ Addition of extra words such as “um” if difficulty moving to the next word is anticipated.
▪️ Excess tension, tightness, or movement of the face or upper body to produce a word.
▪️ Anxiety about talking.
▪️ Limited ability to effectively communicate.
The speech difficulties of stuttering may be accompanied by:
▪️ Rapid eye blinks.
▪️ Tremors of the lips or jaw.
▪️ Facial tics.
▪️ Head jerks.
▪️ Clenching fists.
Stuttering may be worse when the person is excited, tired or under stress, or when feeling self-conscious, hurried or pressured. Situations such as speaking in front of a group or talking on the phone can be particularly difficult for people who stutter.
However, most people who stutter can speak without stuttering when they talk to themselves and when they sing or speak in unison with someone else.
Researchers continue to study the underlying causes of developmental stuttering. A combination of factors may be involved. Possible causes of developmental stuttering include:
1. Abnormalities in speech motor control.
Some evidence indicates that abnormalities in speech motor control, such as timing, sensory and motor coordination, may be involved.
Stuttering tends to run in families. It appears that stuttering can result from inherited (genetic) abnormalities.
Stuttering resulting from other causes.
Speech fluency can be disrupted from causes other than developmental stuttering. A stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other brain disorders can cause speech that is slow or has pauses or repeated sounds (neurogenic stuttering).
Speech fluency can also be disrupted in the context of emotional distress. Speakers who do not stutter may experience dysfluency when they are nervous or feeling pressured. These situations may also cause speakers who stutter to be less fluent.
Speech difficulties that appear after an emotional trauma (psychogenic stuttering) are uncommon and not the same as developmental stuttering.
Males are much more likely to stutter than females are. Factors that increase the risk of stuttering include:
▪️ Delayed childhood development. Children who have developmental delays or other speech problems may be more likely to stutter.
Having relatives who stutter. Stuttering tends to run in families.
▪️ Stress. Stress in the family, high parental expectations or other types of pressure can worsen existing stuttering.
Stuttering can lead to:
1. Problems communicating with others.
2. Being anxious about speaking.
3. Not speaking or avoiding situations that require speaking.
4. Loss of social, school, or work participation and success.
5. Being bullied or teased.
6. Low self-esteem.
Diagnosis is made by a health professional trained to evaluate and treat children and adults with speech and language disorders (speech-language pathologist). The speech-language pathologist observes the adult or child speak in different types of situations.
After a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist, a decision about the best treatment approach can be made. Several different approaches are available to treat children and adults who stutter. Because of varying individual issues and needs, a method — or combination of methods — that’s helpful for one person may not be as effective for another.
Treatment may not eliminate all stuttering, but it can teach skills that help to:
1. Improve speech fluency.
2. Develop effective communication.
3. Participate fully in school, work and social activities.
A few examples of treatment approaches — in no particular order of effectiveness — include:
▪️ Speech therapy. Speech therapy can teach you to slow down your speech and learn to notice when you stutter. You may speak very slowly and deliberately when beginning speech therapy, but over time, you can work up to a more natural speech pattern.
▪️ Electronic devices. Several electronic devices are available to enhance fluency. Delayed auditory feedback requires you to slow your speech or the speech will sound distorted through the machine. Another method mimics your speech so that it sounds as if you’re talking in unison with someone else. Some small electronic devices are worn during daily activities. Ask a speech-language pathologist for guidance on choosing a device.
▪️ Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of psychotherapy can help you learn to identify and change ways of thinking that might make stuttering worse. It can also help you resolve stress, anxiety or self-esteem problems related to stuttering.
▪️ Parent-child interaction. Parental involvement in practicing techniques at home is a key part of helping a child cope with stuttering, especially with some methods. Follow the guidance of the speech-language pathologist to determine the best approach for your child.
Although some medications have been tried for stuttering, no drugs have been proved yet to help the problem.
Coping and support.
If you’re the parent of a child who stutters, these tips may help:
▪️ Listen attentively to your child. Maintain natural eye contact when he or she speaks.
▪️Wait for your child to say the word he or she is trying to say. Don’t jump in to complete the sentence or thought.
▪️ Set aside time when you can talk to your child without distractions. Mealtimes can provide a good opportunity for conversation.▪️ Speak slowly, in an unhurried way. If you speak in this way, your child will often do the same, which may help decrease stuttering.
▪️ Take turns talking. Encourage everyone in your family to be a good listener and to take turns talking.
▪️Strive for calm. Do your best to create a relaxed, calm atmosphere at home in which your child feels comfortable speaking freely.
▪️ Don’t focus on your child’s stuttering. Try not to draw attention to the stuttering during daily interactions. Don’t expose your child to situations that create a sense of urgency, pressure, or a need to rush or that require your child to speak in front of others.
▪️Offer praise rather than criticism. It’s better to praise your child for speaking clearly than to draw attention to stuttering. If you do correct your child’s speech, do so in a gentle, positive way.
▪️ Accept your child just as he or she is. Don’t react negatively or criticize or punish your child for stuttering. This can add to feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness. Support and encouragement can make a big difference.
Connecting with other people.
It can be helpful for children, parents and adults who stutter to connect with other people who stutter or who have children who stutter. Several organizations offer support groups. Along with providing encouragement, support group members may offer advice and coping tips that you might not have considered.
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