Stuttering, also referred to as dysfluent speech, is a disorder in which the normal flow of speech is disrupted by frequent repetitions or prolongations of speech sounds, syllables or words. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by “secondary characteristics” such as, rapid eye blinks, facial grimacing or other “struggle behaviors” of the face and/or upper Healthy Body.
Dysfluencies that are more characteristic of stuttering include sound or syllable repetitions, prolongations (unnatural stretching out of sounds) and blocks (no sound produced). Stuttering can be differentiated from normal dysfluencies by the type, frequency and duration of the dysfluency.
Many children go through a period of normal dysfluency between 2 and 6 years of age, which is a critical period of language acquisition. These dysfluencies are usually whole word or phrase repetitions and interjections. The word is repeated just once or twice and is repeated easily. There does not appear to be any tension in their speech and the child is often unaware of the dysfluency. Most children outgrow these dysfluencies, but some children do not.
Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for stuttering. Just as there are many different theories about the cause of stuttering, there are many different treatment approaches. Therapy will vary depending on the age of the client. Stuttering may be prevented in preschoolers and young borderline stutterers through parent counselling and environmental changes. Whereas, advanced stutters learn skills and strategies to reduce and control their stuttering.