Stuttering is often associated with nervousness, especially when speaking in front of a group of people. Although stuttering is still being researched, it is more widely understood today not as a nervous habit, but a communication disorder.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a communication disorder that causes the flow of speech to be broken by repetitions, prolongations, or abnormal stops during speech, making no sound for certain syllables. In addition to irregular speech, unusual body movements and facial expressions may be made.
What causes stuttering?
The underlying cause of stuttering is still being studied. Possible causes, however, include:
- Abnormalities in speech motor control: Evidence suggests that irregular speech motor control: timing, sensory and motor coordination, can result in persistent stuttering.
- Genetics: Stuttering sometimes runs in families. So, it may be caused by genetic abnormalities in the brain’s language center. It is believed that about 60% of those who stutter have a family member who also stutters.
- Neurophysiology: Recent research suggests that people who stutter process speech and language a little differently than those who do not stutter. A stroke, trauma, or other brain injury can sometimes cause these changes in processing . In rare situations, stuttering is caused by lesions (abnormal tissue) in the motor speech area of the brain.
What are stuttering risk factors?
The following factors increase your risk for stuttering:
- A family history of stuttering
- Delayed childhood development
- Being male
- Stress (can worsen existing stuttering)
How is stuttering treated?
Sometimes stuttering resolves itself on its own as the patient ages. However, Tthe following are signs that it’s time to seek help:
- Stuttering has continued for over six months
- Stuttering is occurring more often
- Stuttering is accompanied with tightness of the face and upper body muscles
- Stuttering is causing emotional problems
- Stuttering continues after a child turns five
After an evaluation, a speech therapist will be able to advise you on the best form of treatment for you. There are a few different types of therapy for treating stuttering including stuttering modification therapy, fluency shaping therapy, and using electronic fluency devices to listen to your own voice.