by Elizabeth McKelvy

Stuttering is a speech impediment that causes blocks, prolongations, and repetitions. Stuttering is not deadly, nor is it uncommon.

More than 7 million people worldwide have a stutter.

When It Begins

Stuttering usually begins in-between the ages of 2-7. Stuttering will usually start with run on sentences or repeating words/letters. During preschool and the earlier grades, if ignored, the child will simply lose the stutter and continue forward with normal speech. However, if the parents stress about the stutter or others point it out (example: teasing), then he or she is more prone to having a long term stutter. Another problem would be if the stutter was an easily angered child, they would probably tense their muscles during a block, which can extend the time of the disfluency.

Target Population

Anyone can develop a stutter, because scientists don't really know what causes a stutter. Some believe it's a neurological problem, and most think it is passed down through families. People who have gone through a traumatic experience or have PTSD may gain a stutter as well.
The Thing Is, I Stutter: Megan Washington at TEDxSydney 2014


Children are closely monitored when brought to a speech therapist, to make sure that it's not just a phase of their development. If it is just a little piece of their growth, they are released and occasionally checked on to make sure they aren't starting to gain the stutter back. When it's more than a phase and the child is growing a full stutter, a certified SLP (speech-language pathologist) will test the number of times a subject produces a disfluency in various situations. People can develop a stutter later than the ages of 2-7 (8-12), and those developers are automatically brought into full diagnosis instead of being monitored.

Symptoms of Stuttering

Stuttering is not exactly a disease, its more of a confusion of the brain. Stuttering happens to appear in three main forms: A block, a prolongation, and repetitions. A block is when a person begins to say a word and chokes on it, making it so no sound comes out and the muscles tense. A block could last from five seconds to fifteen. After some effort the person will be able to say the word.

Prolongations are when a stutterer continues on with a word or sound (llllllike this). What happens is that they get stuck on that sound or letter and just press down on that letter until they can say the word that they are stuck on. This and repetitions (li-li-li-like this) are causes of running across a word that they can't get past/have trouble on.

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Stuttering can be slowed, lessened, and sometimes completely cured. But most often, speech therapists work on helping the stutterer to control/monitor the speed that they speak at. In the past years, doctors have tried curing stuttering. In the 1700's stutterers would get flogged (beaten/whipped). In the 1840's doctors would cut the nerves at the base of the tongue.

How you can help

Yes, SLP's can and may fully help the patient they are working with, but an important role in recovery is the listener. When a person starts talking and stutters, the listener might think that they can help the speaker. Believing this will help, the listener might try to speak over the stutterer, look away, fill in the word, or simply not talk to people who stutter. These reactions are not helpful but actually worse than just sitting there and listening. The stutterer is aware about their speech impediment and are trying to control it, and having these reactions can make the speaker race through their words and possibly stutter worse. Listeners who seem impatient and annoyed make the stutterer stress and worry, and this can tense the muscles to the point of making the reaction have a negative outcome. To keep these things from happening, the best thing to do is listen to the speaker. Don't talk over them and make sure they can see that you are listening. Have patience and do not interrupt or make faces when they are stuck or have a block. Also, suggestions like "slow down", "calm down" and "take a breathe" do not help the stuttering. It makes the stuttering seem simple to overcome, when in reality it is a lot harder than that.

Connections; who do I know with this disease?


Works Cited

"The Stammering Brain: EBSCOhos..." The Stammering Brain: EBSCOhos... Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

"Stuttering." Stuttering. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

"Stuttering Foundation | Since 1947 - A Nonprofit Organization Helping Those Who Stutter." Stuttering Foundation: A Nonprofit Organization Helping Those Who Stutter. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

"Stuttering: A Break in the Flo..." Stuttering: A Break in the Flo... Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

"The Thing Is, I Stutter: Megan..." The Thing Is, I Stutter: Megan... Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

"Understanding Stuttering: EBSC..." Understanding Stuttering: EBSC... Web. 28 Jan. 2016.