What is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech and language disorder which is characterized by breaks in the flow of speech. The speech of a child who stutters may be interrupted by any of the following:
- Whole phrase repetitions: This is when you repeat a phrase of more than one word
- Example: “Where is … where is the ball?”
- Single whole word repetitions: This is when you repeat a single word
- Example: “Where … where is the ball?”
- Interjections: When you do this type of stutter, you add an extra word in that doesn’t need to be there, usually “um”, “uh”, or “like”
- Example: “Where…um is the ball?”
- Revisions: This is when you start to say something but revise it to say something else instead.
- Example: “What … where is the ball?”
- Hesitations: This is when you leave a long pause in your speech while you think about something
- Example: “I’m going to…..look for my marbles”
- Repetition of single sounds
- Example: “sh-sh-shoe”
- Repetitions of syllables
- Example: “ba-ba-ball”
- Prolongation: This is when you stretch or hold a sound out
- Example: “Wh——-re is the ball?”
- Blocks: This is when there is a tense stop in the flow of speech; you open your mouth to speak or get your tongue in the right place but no sound comes out
What is Cluttering?
According to the Stuttering Foundation, Cluttering is defined as follows:
“Cluttering is a fluency disorder characterized by a rapid and/or irregular speaking rate, excessive disfluencies, and often other symptoms such as language or phonological errors and attention deficits. “
Children who use cluttered speech are often very difficult to understand and have speech that sounds jerky or too fast. They may have irregular pauses or may speed up and slow down without cause during speech. As secondary symptoms, they may have difficulty organizing their thoughts verbally, they may leave many sounds out of words, and they may use irregular pitch or intonation.
What Causes Stuttering?
According to The Stuttering Foundation:
There are four factors most likely to contribute to the development of stuttering: genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also); child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter); neurophysiology (recent neurological research has shown that people who stutter process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter); and family dynamics (high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can contribute to stuttering).
Stuttering may occur when a combination of factors comes together and may have different causes in different people. It is probable that what causes stuttering differs from what makes it continue or get worse.
Is Stuttering Normal?
Many preschoolers go through phases of “normal” stuttering. Most of those children will naturally recover from the stuttering on their own without any therapy. However, some will require therapy for their stuttering. The difficult thing is, there is no way to tell if your preschooler will grow out of it or not. We can look at some “red flags” for stuttering that will tell us that a child may be less likely to recover on his own and more likely to require therapy.
Here are the “red flags” or warning signs that may indicate that a child is more likely to have persistent stuttering that will require therapy:
- A parent, sibling, or other family member who still stutters
- Stuttering starts after age 3 ½
- Stuttering has been occurring for at least 6 months
- Preschooler is a male
- The child has other speech sound errors or trouble being understood
- The child’s language skills are advanced, delayed, or disordered
What Kind of Therapy is Best for Stuttering in Children?
What Kind of Therapy is Best for Cluttering in Children?
What Can I Do to Improve a Child’s Word Retrieval Skills?
How Can I Address the Emotional Impacts of Stuttering with an Older Child?
How to Respond to Teasing and Bullying:
Free Therapy Materials for Stuttering/Cluttering:
PDF word retrieval worksheet PDF of the Emotional Impacts of Stuttering Worksheet. Join the mailing list to find out when Carrie publishes more content on stuttering and cluttering: Click here to subscribe to my mailing list