What is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder where the smooth flow of speech is disrupted. This dysfluency may interfere with the ability to be clearly understood.
Some types of stutters include:
- Repetitions of sounds, syllables or words e.g. “M-m-m-mummy” or bu-bu –bubbles or ‘I want- I want-I want a pear”.
- Blockings that are silence as the person tries to speak.
- Prolongations e.g. “Where is the c-o-o-o-w?”
- Verbal disruptions may be accompanied by body, head and facial movements such as eye-blinking or other signs of struggle and tension.
What Causes Stuttering?
The causes of stuttering are multifactorial. Stuttering has been strongly linked to a genetic basis. Stuttering also affects more males than females, with reported rations varying from 3:1 to 5:1 (Onslow, 1998). In addition, brain studies have also shown differences in the brains of people who stutter, compared to the normal individuals.
Stuttering may also be influenced by environmental factors and may worsen in situations that produce anxiety or stress.
Onset of Stuttering
The onset of stuttering typically occurs in the early years of life, between 2 to 5 years old or as soon as a child starts putting words together into short sentences. Sometimes, stuttering may be ‘acquired’ in late childhood or early adulthood. “Acquired” stuttering may occur due to psychogenic reasons or neurological trauma such as a head injury or stroke.
What happens in Speech Therapy?
Parents may be concerned that stuttering therapy will increase the child’s awareness of his or her speech dysfluencies and have a negative effect. Deciding to bring your child for treatment is an important step towards helping your child.
Stuttering therapy allows children to successfully speak fluently, resulting in:
● Increased confidence
● Stuttering with less tension
● Increased eye contact
Preschool and school-aged children are treated using the Lidcombe Program. The Lidcombe Program is an evidence-based, behavioural treatment for early stuttering. Parents are trained to help their child to control their stutter. Results from the Lidcombe Program show that the majority of children are able to maintain fluent speech during conversations or social interactions.
For adolescents and adults, Prolonged or Smooth speech techniques are used. Clients are taught specific strategies to improve their fluency and control the stutter. Treatment is conducted on an individual basis and tailored to suit the client’s needs. This may include reading, presentations, speaking engagements, job interviews, or other social situations.
Great Stuttering Resources
Australian Stuttering Research Centre : http://www.fhs.usyd.edu.au/asrc/
Latrobe University : http://www.latrobe.edu.au/istutter/
What is Cluttering?
Cluttering is another fluency disorder that is less well-known. Individuals with cluttering often speak at an unusually fast rate; they may also repeat syllables or words. Prosody and articulation may also be affected. For instance, an individual may display articulation difficulties, such as “buttercup” as “tuttertup”, or omit sounds in words “crocodile” as “crodile”.