Also known as: hairline stuttering.

What is stuttering?

Stuttering or stammering is an abnormality in the normal pattern of speech (disfluency). It may take a number of forms from repetition of a sound or syllable especially at the beginning of a word (e.g. “hi- hi- hi his” or “ m-m-m mom”) or as pauses, the elongation of other sounds, complete stoppage or removal of a sound or repeated interruptions with an “um” for example. Stuttering can occur at any age but is frequently found in boys starting between 18 months and 2 years, often coming and going until 5 years of age (this is normal developmental stuttering). Even though it may be severe and last a while most children will not go on stuttering into adulthood (only 1% or fewer adults stutter).

True problem stuttering may be suggested by stuttering that continues past 5 years of age, has facial muscle strain, vigorous effort or tension when trying to talk, voice rising in pitch as the child struggles to say the word, or the child avoids the letter or word that that is difficult to say. The child becomes afraid to speak often speaking slowly and the stuttering gets worse with tiredness, excitement or under stress.


What causes stuttering? 

The exact cause of stuttering is unclear and while no specific gene has been identified almost 60% have someone in the family that stutters. Some children who have other speech or language problems stutter.


What are the symptoms of stuttering? 

The typical presentation of stuttering includes repeated sounds, words or syllables, as well as other sounds being elongated and breaks in speech known as “blocks.” This can cause a number of challenges for affected individuals in school, relationships and in adolescents in the work environment.


What are stuttering care options? 

Specialists known as speech-language pathologists (SLP) can evaluate your child and in most cases help parents to focus on training to develop techniques to help the child cope with the stutter such as not to be critical of the child’s speech, avoiding correcting or completing sentences for the child etc etc. As there is no cure for stuttering a SLP may work directly with the child to develop behavioral techniques that can assist the child not to stutter.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/1/2018 9:09:22 AM

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