The popularity of the movie The King’s Speech over the past several months has brought stuttering more public attention than it has seen in a long time. But what exactly is stuttering? This week’s blog will present some basic stuttering facts to help put the disorder in perspective.
What Is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a disorder that affects the fluency of speech. A stutter will typically appear in early childhood, usually between the ages of 2.5 and 5 years. While in some cases a stutter may spontaneously resolve in childhood, for many people, stuttering can be a lifelong difficulty. Males are significantly more likely than females to stutter.
Stuttering comes in many forms
When people think of stuttering, many picture cartoonish depictions like Porky Pig in which a single word is repeated over and over. In reality, stuttering can involve many different types of speech difficulties. These can include:
Repetitions: This involves repeating a phrase, word, or sound multiple times. For example: The d-d-d-dog is in the yard.
Prolongations: Rather than repeating a sound, the stutter will make the sound continuously until he is able to move on. For example: Sssssee that over there?
Blocks: When blocking, the stutter will generally form their mouth into the position for a sound, but no sound will emerge. After several seconds, often with visible effort, the stutterer will continue with the sound or word
An individual with a stutter may exhibit any or all of the above difficulties to greater or lesser degrees. No two stutterers are exactly alike.
Stuttering is NOT an emotional or nervous disorder
Many people think that a person who stutters does so because they are perpetually nervous, and if they could just calm down, they’d be fine. While stress can sometimes exacerbate an individual’s tendency to stutter at any given moment, stuttering does NOT have its roots in psychology. While the precise origins of stuttering are unknown, it is thought to be neurological in nature. Telling an individual who is stuttering to “relax” will not help them to reduce their stutter and may, in fact, have the opposite affect.
Check in again next week when we’ll continue our series on stuttering with more great information.
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