by Theresa Menz, M.S., CCC-SLP and Rena Dadolf, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologists in Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools
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. A diagnosis of a disorder is more than just the speech characteristics. It involves a thorough assessment of the child’s self-perception and feelings surrounding their speech.
Here are some video examples of children who stutter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rysVhDb3qKM
Myths about Stuttering:
Myth: People who stutter are not smart.
Reality: There is no link whatsoever between stuttering and intelligence.
Myth: Nervousness causes stuttering.
Reality: Nervousness does not cause stuttering. Nor should we assume that people who stutter are prone to be nervous, fearful, anxious, or shy. They have the same full range of personality traits as those who do not stutter.
Myth: Stuttering can be “caught” through imitation or by hearing another person stutter.
Reality: You can’t “catch” stuttering. No one knows the exact causes of stuttering, but recent research indicates that family history (genetics), neuromuscular development, and the child’s environment, including family dynamics, all play a role in the onset of stuttering.
Myth: It helps to tell a person to “take a deep breath before talking,” or “think about what you want to say first.”
Reality: This advice only makes a person more self-conscious, making the stuttering worse. More helpful responses include listening patiently and modeling slow and clear speech yourself.
Myth: Stress causes stuttering.
Reality: As mentioned above, many complex factors are involved. Stress is not the cause, but it certainly can aggravate stuttering.
There is no “cure” for stuttering. Speech therapy focuses on compensation strategies and understanding the nature of the disorder and progress toward fluency.
Source: The Stuttering Foundation , Child and Adolescent Stuttering Treatment and Activity Resource Guide, P. Ramig and D. Dodge