Speech Therapy

What Is Stuttering? – Causes And Symptoms

My friend insisted I meet her friend who she thought was a good match for me. I was excited to meet this guy and was bowled over when I first looked at him. But he stammered the moment he said ‘hello’ and I was slightly taken aback. What Is Stuttering? I wanted to know and searched the internet for more information as soon as I was home. It was a fine evening and I enjoyed talking to him, but it took me sometime to get accustomed to and understand his prolonged and sometimes repeated words.

What Is Stuttering?
Stammering is a speech disorder in which the sounds, words, or syllables are repeated or are prolonged, or a sudden pause is experienced resulting in the disruption of the smooth flow of speech. Stuttering or disfluency of speech is accompanied by a few behavioral struggles like shivering lips, and constant blinking of eyelids. Also, fillers are repeatedly used to make up for the pauses like ‘umm…’, ‘ahh…’ etc.

Causes Of Stuttering:
Following six reasons are the most likely factors that can result in this speech disorder.

1. Genetics:
It is believed that almost 60% of the cases have a family history for the condition. The genetical make up is one of the strongest reasons for a person to stammer.

2. Other Speech Related Problems:
Late talking, apraxia, dyspraxia, and other speech related problems, delays, and conditions too contribute as a good reason to develop stuttering.

3. Different Neurophysiologic Make Up:
It has been studied to see if the nervous system of the person suffering from stuttering and the neurophysiologic make up of a normal speaking person are different. And, the results have shown difference between the two cases.

4. High Expectations:
Family life, life style, and expectations out of a person are some of the other reasons that can fairly contribute towards the problem.

5. Psychogenic Stuttering:
It is not a common cause, but emotional trauma is also considered to be a reason.

6. Reasoning Ability:
In some cases it is the reasoning ability and problems with thinking process that can lead to it.

Symptoms Of Stammering:

  • The first and the obvious sign of it is when a child or a person repeats a syllable or a word. For example: When a stutterer asks H-H-H-How are you? He repeats the letter ‘H’ thrice and on the fourth attempt he clears the word. This is the case of repetition stammering.
  • Some people prolong the sound of a word while speaking. For instance, a stammering person will say ‘SSSSS it down’, he will say ‘S’ until he pronounces the whole word ‘sit’ completely. This is called prolongation.
  • Sudden pauses while speaking is filled with interjections and fillers to complete the sentence is another symptom of it. For example: “Hi! How are you? Aaa…please…umm…sit down…ahhh…I’ll be back.”

When To See A Therapist?
The severity of the disfluency of the speech widely varies through out the day of a stutterer. Talking to strangers, over a phone, or speaking in front of a group could worsen the situation whereas it is not that bad when reading, singing and speaking in unison.

  • If you feel a person’s symptoms are severe then consulting a therapist at the earliest is better.
  • If the condition continues for more than 6 months then it is better to consult a therapist.
  • When you have a family history of stuttering.
  • If the person has other speech related problems.

Instead of panicking about what is stuttering? It is better to consult a language and speech specialist and get diagnosed. Almost 5% of the children suffer from the condition at some point of time but with age they out grow it.

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