Stuttering Can Be Stopped

IMAGEStuttering can be embarrassing and frustrating for many people. If you stutter, you are not alone. In fact, many famous people, like James Earl Jones and John Stossel, stutter.Between 4%-5% of the population experiences stuttering, and most are boys or men. Stuttering is 4 times more common in boys at an earlier age.In most cases, stuttering appears between the ages of 3 and 5, but recovery can happen at any age. Up to 80% recover by age 16 years. Now that you know stuttering can be stopped, here is some information to get you started on the road to recovery.

Defining and Diagnosing Stuttering

Stuttering is a type of disfluency or breakdown of the smooth forward flow of speech. This flow is broken by abnormal stoppages, repetitions, or prolongation of sounds and syllables. It appears to be caused by a timing disruption in the part of the brain that controls speech. When another part of the brain tries to help out, it goes too far. The two parts of the brain get overloaded, whichcan result in stuttering. Keep in mind that stuttering is not a nervous disorder, but a communication disorder. So it is not a nervous reaction to frustration, anxiety, or embarrassment about speaking. Stuttering may also cause:
  • Repetition of sounds, words, or phrases
  • Silent pauses between words
  • Speech that sounds like "blurting"
  • Speech may be better or worse depending if speaker is in private or in public
Along with the vocal difficulties, those who stutter often nod, squeeze their fists, and blink their eyes in an attempt to force the words out. These gestures can make those who stutter more self-conscious.Stuttering is not always easy to identify. Speech therapists use clues to detect or diagnose stuttering in children. Some aspects of stuttering may not be noticeable, but can still be assessed with questionnaires. The assessment may include:
  • Rate of speech—evaluation of disruptions or breaks in the flow of speech
  • Language skills
  • Emotional reaction to stuttering, speech avoidance, or self-image

Risk Factor for Stuttering

There are several things that may increase the risk of a child stuttering:
  • Genetics— immediate or extended family member who stutter
  • Cognitive ability—how well the brain processes complex tasks
  • Environment—stressful social situations, home life, or emotional processing may contribute to stuttering
Most of the time, it is a combination of these or other factors that increase risk of stuttering.

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