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. The first two are genetics (approximately 60 percent of those who stutter have a family member who does also) and child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter).
Two additional factors that may contribute to stuttering include 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. 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?
Learn more about whether your child is stuttering at www.stutteringhelp.org. 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, Nicholas Brendon, 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.
Source: The Stuttering Foundation of America. Visit www.stutteringhelp.org.