What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. Stuttering is also referred to as stammering.
• What causes stuttering?
There are four factors most likely to contribute to the development of stuttering: genetics (approximately 60 percent 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.
• How many people stutter?
More than 70 million people worldwide stutter, which is about 1 percent of the population. In the United States, that’s over 3 million Americans who stutter.
• What is the ratio of males to females who stutter?
Stuttering affects four times as many males as females.
• How many children stutter?
Approximately 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more. Three-quarters of those will recover by late childhood, leaving about 1 percent with a long-term problem. The best prevention tool is early intervention.
• Is stuttering caused by emotional or psychological problems?
Children and adults who stutter are no more likely to have psychological or emotional problems than children and adults who do not. There is no reason to believe that emotional trauma causes stuttering.
• I think my child is beginning to stutter. Should I wait or seek help?
It is best to seek help as soon as possible. If the stuttering persists beyond three to six months or is particularly severe, you may want to seek help from a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering right away.
• Can stuttering be treated?
Yes, there are a variety of successful approaches for treating both children and adults In general, the earlier, the better is good advice.
• Are there any famous people who stutter?
Emily Blunt, James Earl Jones, John Stossel, Bill Walton, Mel Tillis, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Carly Simon, Annie Glenn, Ken Venturi, Bob Love, John Updike, King George VI—all are famous people who stuttered and went on to have successful lives.
• I read about a new cure for stuttering. Is there such a thing?
There are no instant miracle cures for stuttering. Therapy, electronic devices, and even drugs are not an overnight process. However, a specialist in stuttering can help not only children but also teenagers, young adults and even older adults make significant progress toward fluency.
6 Tips for Speaking with Someone Who Stutters
Stuttering may look like an easy problem that can be solved with some simple advice, but for many, it can be a chronic life-long disorder. Here are some ways that you can help.
1. Don’t make remarks like: “Slow down,” “Take a breath,” or “Relax.” Such simplistic advice can be felt as demeaning and is not helpful.
2. Let the person know by your manner that you are listening to what he or she says, not how they say it.
3. Maintain natural eye contact and wait patiently and naturally until the person is finished.
4. You may be tempted to finish sentences or fill in words. Try not to do so.
5. Be aware that those who stutter usually have more trouble controlling their speech on the telephone. Please be patient in this situation. If you pick up the phone and hear nothing, be sure it is not a person who stutters trying to start the conversation before you hang up.
6. Speak in an unhurried way, but not so slowly as to sound unnatural. This promotes good communication with everyone.
Source: Stuttering Foundation of America.