Stuttering and Cluttering

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.  LLLet’s go to Orchard or Ba-Ba Bali has great beaches.
  • Blockings that are silence as the person tries to speak.
  • Prolongations such as (e.g. Can i have a drrrrink please?)
  • 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 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.

 

Stuttering treatment

Prolonged or Smooth Speech Techniques have been shown to have very favourable outcomes.

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. This is important, especially as first impressions count.

 

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”.

Differences between Stuttering and Cluttering

Symptom Stuttering Cluttering
What gets stuck Word, sound, syllable Message
Know what want to say?

 

Yes

 

No (or less clear; know but theyget derailed in mazes)

 

Awareness

 

Typically yes

 

Yes and No

 

Rate differences

 

Can be a secondary strategy (i.e. person who stutters may speak quickly to avoid stuttering), but is not central to stuttering itself

 

Yes; mandatory for a diagnosis of cluttering (note that rate has to be rapid OR irregular, but does not have to be both)

 

Dysfluences Mostly stuttering-like disfluencies (SLDs), such as repetitions, prolonga­tions, blocks

 

Mostly non- stuttering- like disfluencies (NSLDs), such as interjections / filler words, phrases repetitions, revisions

 

Examples of dysfluencies:

 

Repetitions of sounds of syllables:
y-y-you, wa-wa-watermelon
Prolongations: sssso; thiiiis Blocks: sound gets stuck and person has difficulty moving forward to nextsound: p—eople
Interjections/ filler words: um, uh
Phrase repetitions: I love, I love NSA
Revisions: I would like ice cream, no, please make that a shake
Articulation difficulties
(i.e. difficulties pronouncing sounds in words)
Not in pure stuttering (i.e. stuttering without any additional communication disorders) May sound “Mushy” and “Slurred”, typically can be corrected by such strategies as slowing down one’s speech rate
Prosody (i.e. the rhythm and melody of one’s speech) Typically normal May be impacted; especially by change in pausing related to irregular rate.
How it sounds Repetitions, prolongations, blocks Rushes of speech; lots of restarts
Affective and cognitive components

 

Can be

 

Negative reactions and communication avoidance have been identified by consumers
Pragmatics (i.e. social aspects of language) Typically okay A secondary consequence to decreased communication effectiveness.

 

Reference: National Stuttering Association, 2010