What are Stuttering and Fluency Disorders?
Stuttering is a speech disorder that impacts fluency of speech. The term, “fluency disorders” is used to include stuttering and cluttering. Stuttering can consist of both primary and secondary behaviors. A primary behavior is the speech difficulty that occurs, such as a repetition of a sound, syllable, word or phrase, while a secondary behavior could involve physical tension of the mouth, excessive blinking of the eyes, or avoiding specific sounds. To the common ear, a stutter is speech containing disfluencies, or moments of disrupted speech production. These speech breakdowns could include repetition of a sound or word, unusual pauses, prolongation of a specific sound or use of interjections such as “um” or “uh”.
How to Spot Stuttering
Stuttering or fluency disorders can be recognized in children based on some of the following signs and symptoms, which should be assessed by a speech-language pathologist.
Repetitions (ex. “Can, can, can I have a cookie?”)
Prolongations, or holding on to a sound (ex. “Nnnnno!”)
Interjections (ex. “My, um, sister, uh, can swim.”)
Choppy sounding speech
Excessive eye blinking while speaking
Body twitches while speaking
What Causes Stuttering?
While the exact cause of stuttering is unknown, research suggests that genetic factors contribute to this speech disorder; however, not everyone who is at risk will go on to stutter. Specific events, such as introduction of new grammatical rules, frustration with speech acts, or use of tense oral muscles while speaking, may act to initiate and propel a stutter in a child. Stuttering that occurs during childhood is known as developmental stuttering, and can intensify based on negative reactions from listeners.
At Use Your Words Speech Therapy, stuttering therapy is available to teach your child to reduce, manage or even how to stop stuttering. During an evaluation, a speech therapist will carefully analyze your child’s speech for different types of disfluencies and will then create a treatment plan that utilizes a plethora of strategies and exercises to improve speech fluency.
These activities may involve breathing management, use of slow speech with a pacing board, and monitoring movements of their mouths in a mirror. As your child’s skill and confidence increases, the games and activities will become more complex to provide new challenges.
Though it may be difficult to witness your child struggle with getting his words out, you may be at ease to know that speech therapy focusing on stuttering intervention can aid in improving your child’s overall speech fluency.
If your child is living with stuttering, finding a quality speech-language pathologist is a top priority.