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Dysfluency (Stuttering)

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is something that affects the fluency or flow of speech. It usually begins

during childhood and can continue right through a person’s life. It is characterized

by specific types of disruptions or disfluencies in the production of speech sounds

that occur regularly and impact on communication.

Kid shouting through vintage megaphone.

What are  some common  characteristics   of  stuttering?

  • Repetitions of sounds, parts of words and whole words (e.g. “wha…wha… what are you….you….you d..d…d…..d..doing”).

  • Prolongations or stretching of speech sounds (e.g. “whaaaaaaat are you doing”).

  • Blocking or struggling to get words out. This is when the mouth is positioned to say a sound, sometimes for several seconds, before the sound is said. After some effort the person may complete the word.

  • Interjections, such as “um” or “like” can occur particularly when they contain repeated (“um- um- um”) or prolonged (“uuuum”) speech sounds. They are also used intentionally to delay the initiation of a word the speaker expects to “get stuck on”.

  • Unusual pausing for extended periods of time.

  • ​“Secondary” physical signs, such as blinking, leg slapping and facial movements when they are trying to get out a word.

Little girl in class with a speech thera

How can I tell if my child is having problems with stuttering?

  • Show frustration because they can’t get their words out or effortful speech.

  • Seem to get stuck on words a lot of the time.

  • Repeat sounds, syllables or phrases regularly in their speech.

  • Have lots of stops and starts in speech (e.g. there is a lack of “flow”) and their speech is difficult to follow and understand.

  • Avoids certain words and/or phrases because they might have difficulty saying them or they get stuck on those words.

  • Avoids talking because they are having difficulty communicating fluently with others.

  • Shows secondary behaviors like foot tapping, blinking or their slapping leg when trying to get a word out.

  • Say ‘um’, ‘er’ or ‘ah’ a lot whilst thinking about what they want to say.

  • Regularly rephrase sentences whilst talking.

If you  have concerns about your child's receptive language skills, schedule a consultation with one of our pediatric  Speech Language Pathologists.

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