5 Myths and 1 Truth about Stuttering

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-fact

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

Preschool Stuttering? 5 Easy Tips for Adults

by S. Michaels, H. Miller, P. Norwood, H. Petrusa, A. Samuels (CHCCS SLP Pre-K Team)

Everyone has normal dysfluencies, especially preschoolers.   Preschool age children are learning the “adult way” of forming sounds into words and sentences.  They do not yet have the speech motor coordination that mature speakers have acquired.  In other words, their mouths are trying to keep up with what their brains want to say.  Therefore, preschoolers may hesitate to speak, revise what they say, or repeat a word or phrase multiple times before conveying their idea.  You may wonder if this is stuttering – most often it is not.

According to J. Scott Yaruss (Yaruss, Scott. Young Children Who Stutter.  New York: National Stuttering Association, 2013. Print), there are a few red flags that indicate more than a typical dysfluency in a preschool child such as:

  • Part-word repetition (li-li-li-like this)
  • Prolongations (Loooooook at the snow)
  • Blocking (l….ike this)

This is not an exhaustive list.  You may see other behaviors or repetitions of sounds or words that seem outside the norm of other kids. There are many factors to consider when differentiating normal dysfluency from stuttering.  Talk to your speech-language pathologist about your concerns.  

Whether the child is experiencing normal dysfluencies or true stuttering, here are 5 suggestions for teachers and adults:

  1. Turtle Talk – Speak to children in a non-rushed manner all the time
  2. Pause, Think, Tell – Adult models a delayed response  – “Hmm, let me think about that….(3 seconds later)…Yes, I do like pizza.”
  3. Rephrase – Adult rephrases child’s message – “Oh so you did not like it when the dog jumped up and down”
  4. Praise – Praise child’s attempts at speaking! The message is for them to KEEP talking despite ‘bumpy’ speech i.e. “You have great ideas!”
  5. Reduce competition for simultaneous speaking – Remind others that it is this child’s turn to speak and then it will be the next person’s turn.  i.e “We have time to speak and time to listen.”

New e-book from the Stuttering Foundation

by Beth Burns

vakantie Madeira oktober 2001The Stuttering Foundation recently tweeted exciting news for teachers, parents, and speech-language pathologists.  “The Girl Who Stutters” is a free e-book for elementary or middle school students.  If you have a child/student who stutters, this could be an excellent resource.

The Girl Who Stutters