stuttering

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Stuttering

 

Definition

Stuttering is a speech problem characterized by repetitions, pauses, or drawn out syllables, words, and phrases. Stutterers are different than people experiencing normal fluency problems because a stutterer's disfluency is more severe and consistent than that of people who do not stutter.

Description

Normal language development in a child can include a period of disfluency. Children might repeat syllables or words once or twice. Sometimes, children experiencing normal disfluencies hesitate during speech or use fillers, including "um," with frequency. These developmental problems usually happen between one and five years of age. Often, parents are concerned about the disfluency they hear in their children. In fact, about 25% of all children experience speech disfluencies during development concern their parents because of their severity.
A child with mild stuttering, however, will repeat sounds more than twice. Parents and teachers often notice the child's facial muscles become tense and he or she might struggle to speak. The child's voice pitch might rise with repetitions, and some children experience occasional periods when airflow or voice stops for seconds at a time. Children with more severe stuttering stutter through more than 10% of their speech. This child exhibits considerable tension and tries to avoid stuttering by using different words. In these children, complete blocks of speech are more common than repetitions or prolongations, during which children lengthen syllables or words.
Stuttering usually begins in childhood when the child is developing language skills, and it rarely develops in adulthood with only 1% of the population affected by the disorder. Stuttering does not affect intelligence. Teens often experience more noticeable problems with stuttering as they enter the dating scene and increase their social interactions. Stuttering can severely affect one's life. Often, adults who are concerned about stuttering choose their careers based on the disability.
The degree of stuttering is often inconsistent. Stutterers can be fluent in some situations. Many find that they stop stuttering when singing or doing other activities involving speech. Some have good and bad days when it comes to stuttering. On good days, a stutterer might be able to talk fluently using words that usually cause him to repeat, pause or prolongate sounds, syllables, parts of words, entire words, or phrases.

Causes and symptoms

There is no known cause of stuttering. Some believe that it has a physical cause and that it might be related to a breakdown in the neurological system. Stuttering starts early in life and often is inherited. Brain scan research has revealed that there might be abnormalities in the brains of stutterers, while they are stuttering. Myths about why stuttering occurs abound. Some cultures believe that stuttering is caused by emotional problems, tickling an infant too much or because a mother ate improperly during breastfeeding. None have been proven to be true. It is believed that some drugs might induce stuttering-like conditions. These include antidepressants, antihistamines, tranquilizers and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Diagnosis

Speech and language therapists diagnose stuttering by asking stutterers to read out loud, pronounce specific words, and talk. Some also order hearing tests. The tests will determine whether or not a person needs speech therapy.

Treatment

Researchers don't understand what causes stuttering. However, progress has been made into what contributes to the development of the disability and, therefore, in some cases it can be prevented in childhood with the help of therapy early on. Therapy can help people of all ages suffering from the speech disability. While not an overnight cure, therapy can offer positive results and more fluent speech patterns. The goals of therapy are to reduce stuttering frequency, decrease the tension and struggle of stuttering, become educated about stuttering, and learn to use effective communications skills, such as making eye contact, to further enhance speech. The therapy focuses on helping stutterers to discover easier and different ways of producing sounds and expressing thoughts. The success of therapy depends largely on the stutterer's willingness to work at getting better.
The duration of stuttering therapy needed varies among stutterers. Sometimes, it helps stutterers if they have therapy intermittently throughout their lives.
Parents, teachers and others can do things to help ease stuttering. These include: talking slowly, but normally, clearly, and in a relaxed manner to a stutterer: answering questions after a pause to encourage a relaxed transaction; trying not to make stuttering worse by getting annoyed by a person's stuttering; giving stutterers reassurance about their stuttering; and encourage the stutterer to talk about his or her stuttering.
Electronic fluency aids help some stutterers when used as an adjunct to therapy. Medications, such as antipsychotics and neuroleptics, have been used to treat stuttering with limited success.

Alternative treatment

Some use relaxation techniques to help their stuttering.

Key terms

Antipsychotics — A class of drugs used to treat psychotic or neurotic behavior.
Disfluency — An interruption in speech flow.
Neuroleptics — Antipsychotic drugs that affect psychomotor activity.

Prognosis

More than three million Americans stutter and four times more males are affected than females. Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Carly Simon, James Earl Jones and King George VI are among the many people who stuttered but went on to live successful professional lives. Decades of research have yielded no answers to the causes of stuttering; still much has been learned about what contributes to stuttering's development and how to prevent it in children. People who stutter can get better through therapy.

Prevention

New and exciting developments are occurring in researchers' understanding of the genetics of stuttering. Researchers are finding the locations of genes that predispose people to stuttering. While genetic factors will not explain all stuttering, genetics will help to uncover the disability's causes. Speech therapy, especially that performed at a young age, can stop the progression of stuttering.

Resources

Organizations

National Stuttering Foundation of America. 1-(800) 992-9392. http://www.stutteringhelp.org.

Other

The Stuttering Home Page. Minnesota State University, Mankato. 〈http://www.mandato.msus.edu/deprt/comdis/kuster/stutter.html〉.
"Stuttering." The Nemours Foundation, KidsHealth.org. http://kidshealth.org.
"What is Stuttering?" Robert W. Quesal, PhD, Professor and Program Director. Communications Sciences and Disorders. Western Illinois University. http://www.wiu.edu.

stuttering

 [stut´er-ing]
a speech disorder characterized by involuntary hesitation in starting or finishing a sound, such as difficulty in starting words beginning with t, or the inability to get beyond a first letter such as m or s. See also stammering.

Stuttering involves three definitive factors: (1) speech dysfluency, especially the repetition of parts of words or whole words, prolongation of sounds or words and unduly prolonged pauses; (2) unfavorable reactions of listeners to the speaker's speech defect; and (3) the reactions of the speaker to the listeners' reactions, as well as to the speech problem itself and to the conception of oneself as a person who stutters. Early interventions for stuttering enhance the child's communication skills. Referral to a speech-language pathologist is important in order to determine appropriate treatment.

stut·ter·ing

laliophobia.

stut·ter·ing

(stŭt'ĕr-ing),
A phonatory or articulatory disorder, characteristically beginning in childhood, with intense anxiety about the efficiency of oral communications, and characterized by dysfluency: hesitations, repetitions, and prolongations of sounds and syllables, interjections, broken words, circumlocutions, and words produced with excess tension. See: explosive speech, stammering.

stuttering

/stut·ter·ing/ (stut´er-ing) a speech problem characterized chiefly by spasmodic repetition of sounds, especially of initial consonants, by prolongation of sounds and hesitation, and by anxiety and tension on the part of the speaker about perceived speech difficulties. Cf. stammering.

stuttering

Etymology: D, stotteren
a speech disorder usually characterized by excessive abnormal hesitations, blocks, part-word and whole-word repetitions, and audible or silent prolongation of sounds. The cause of stuttering is unknown; it may be hereditary or may result from developmental processes or neurological impairment. Hesitancy and lack of fluency in speech are typical characteristics of normal speech and language development during the preschool years, when a child's physical, psychological, and speech and language development do not match the linguistic demands of talking. The child may become conscious of speaking difficulties associated with acquisition, and a fear of speaking may develop. Early prevention and evaluation are recommended. The health care professional may educate parents by making them aware of the normal dysfluent patterns in a child's speech and by suggesting ways to encourage a child's speech development. If stuttering persists, parents should be encouraged to seek the advice of a speech-language pathologist. Also called fluency disorder. See also stammering.

stuttering

Medspeak
adjective Referring to an intermittent progression of a disease state, characterised by a staccato pattern of deterioration, as classically occurs in multiple sclerosis or in a stroke-in-evolution.
 
Speech pathology
noun A defective speech pattern that is more common in men, affecting an estimated 1/100, which is characterised by irregular repetition of syllables, words or phrases; hesitation and interruption of fluent speech; and commonly, a staccato repetition of the first phoneme of a spoken phrase. It may be accompanied by facial grimacing, postural gestures, involuntary grunts or loss of airway control.
 
Management
Address psychological substrate; reduce stutterer’s stress.

stuttering

Clinical medicine adjective Referring to an intermittent progression of a disease state, characterized by a staccato pattern of deterioration, as classically occurs in multiple sclerosis or in a stroke in evolution Speech pathology noun A defective speech pattern more common in ♂ which affects ± 1/100 characterized by irregular repetition of syllables, words, or phrases, hesitation and interruption of fluent speech, commonly, a staccato repetition of the first phoneme of a spoken phrase; it may be accompanied by facial grimacing, postural gestures, involuntary grunts or loss of airway control Management Bethanechol. See Cluttering.

stut·ter·ing

(stŭt'ĕr-ing)
A phonatory or articulatory disorder, characteristically beginning in childhood, sometimes accompanied by intense anxiety about the efficiency of oral communication, characterized by hesitations, repetitions, or prolongations of sounds and syllables, interjections, broken words, circumlocutions, and words produced with excess tension.
See also: dysfluency

stut·ter·ing

(stŭt'ĕr-ing)
A phonatory or articulatory disorder, characteristically beginning in childhood, with intense anxiety about the efficiency of oral communications, and characterized by dysfluency.

stuttering,

n a speech dysfunction characterized by spasmodic enunciation of words, involving excessive hesitations, stumbling, repetition of the same syllables, and prolongation of sounds.