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What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder in which sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or lengthened more than normal. These cause a break in the flow of speech or what’s called disfluency.

What are the types of disfluencies?

Stuttering is different for everyone and what people perceive as a stutter varies from person to person.  However, whole or part word repetitions which are just as they sound, such as “my-my-my-mine.”  Prolongations are the lengthening of sounds in words such as “ssssssee.”  Blocks are often distinguished by long pauses during words.

What causes stuttering?

Stuttering can be caused by many different things.  A large number of those who stutter have family members who stutter as well.  Family lifestyles and environments which are stressful are thought to contribute to stuttering.  Children who have other speech and language delays are more likely to stutterer. Finally, neural processing of speech and language in stutterers is thought to contribute to the stuttering.

Is it important to treat stuttering?

-For children, stuttering can have devastating effects on their academic success as children who stutter are less likely to participate in class and as a result, their learning suffers.  

-For adults, stuttering can be create barriers to career advancement as those who stutter may not apply to or may not get the jobs that require speaking in front of people or potential customers.

-For both children and adults, stuttering can be a limiting factor in regards to socialization and building relationships as shyness and apprehension  often accompany stuttering.

Who to contact?

Contact a speech-language pathologist (SLP) certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) if you are concerned about stuttering.  A qualified SLP can evaluate and help the child or adult with stuttering. The SLP can advise whether professional help is indicated and how to arrange for assistance.  The SLP can also give you guidance or provide services to help you create an environment that will reduce stuttering occurrences.

What is an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association awards the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) to speech-language pathologists who have earned a master’s degree from a comprehensive program, completed a supervised clinical experience, and passed a national examination.  

How can I help my child who stutters?

As a parent with a child who exhibits signs of stuttering, it is best to seek help as soon as possible.  Continue monitoring the child’s condition and If the stuttering persists beyond three to six months, you may consult a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering.  With stuttering, the earlier the therapy begins, the better the chance of remediation.

Will a child outgrow stuttering?

Some children do and those children who begin stuttering at or around age 3 1/2 are more likely to outgrow stuttering.

I am an adult who stutters. What help is available to me?

There are many ways to help adults who stutter.  A speech-language pathologist can design an appropriate therapy program for the individual client based off of their schedule, the severity of the disfluency, and what their goals are.  

Stuttering therapy in private practices offer flexible schedules for their clients.  The reason for this is that stuttering therapy for adults is fairly intense and multiple sessions during the week are needed to maximize the ability of the therapy to reduce stuttering.

As stuttering varies among all individuals, the SLP will need to evaluate the client to determine the severity of the stutter.  This evaluation will allow the SLP to custom tailor a therapy program that takes advantage of the research based therapy techniques.  

Many adults who stutter have specific goals in mind with regards to their stuttering.  These may be academic, career, or socially related (possibly all 3).

These goals can serve to direct the therapy to address the goal specifically.  Along the way, the SLP expects that the client will experience less stuttering in other situations beyond the end goal.  

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