People who stutter experience a loss of control in the forward flow of speech. The more we understand stuttering, the better we can educate others about it. The NSA® has partnered with leading stuttering specialists and researchers to provide accurate information about stuttering. Here are a few facts about stuttering:
Stuttering usually begins in childhood, between the ages of 2 and 5 years.
It’s estimated about 1% of the world’s population stutters, though about 5% of children go through a period of stuttering.
Stuttering can begin gradually and develop over time, or it can appear suddenly.
Stuttering is a speech pattern involving involuntary disruptions, or “disfluencies”, in the forward flow of speech. Stuttering-like disfluencies include sound/syllable repetitions, whole word repetitions, audible sound prolongations, and inaudible sound prolongations (i.e., blocks). Stuttering-like disfluencies are typically produced with tension, arrhythmicity, and/or secondary behaviors (e.g., eye blinking). Typical disfluencies produced by speakers who do and do not stutter include phrase repetitions, phrase revisions, whole word repetitions, and interjections (e.g., um).
When people stutter, they feel like they have lost control of their speech mechanism. This sensation of loss of control can be disconcerting and uncomfortable, and it can lead to embarrassment, anxiety about speaking, and a fear of stuttering again.
Stuttering is a genetically-influenced condition: most of the time, if there is one person in a family who stutters, there will be another person in the family who also stutters.
Stuttering is associated with differences in the brain; it is not just a behavior that children learn or pick up from listening to other people who stutter.
The way a person stutters or their types of disfluencies may vary and change over time. A person who stutters who primarily displays blocks may begin to demonstrate repetitions later on. This variability is normal!
Stuttering is more common among males than females. In adults, the male-to-female ratio is about 4 to 1; in children, it is closer to 2 to 1.
As many as 80% of young children who begin to stutter ultimately stop stuttering. Those who continue to stutter into the school-age years are likely to continue stuttering in some fashion throughout their lives.
Stuttering varies significantly over time: Sometimes, people will have periods in which the stuttering appears to go away, only to have it return. This variability is normal.
People who stutter may try to avoid stuttering by speaking quickly, pushing through moments of stuttering, word substitution, circumlocution, avoiding feared speaking situtations , or choosing not to speak at all when they fear they might stutter. These behaviors can cause psychological distress, increase physical tension, and lead to a greater adverse impact of stuttering on a person’s life.
Stuttering also varies across situations: sometimes people stutter a lot, and sometimes they stutter a little. Again, this variability is normal.
For people who stutter, the observable disfluencies are not the most important part of the condition. Instead, it is the impact on their lives that causes the most concern. Therefore, speech therapy for stuttering should focus on more than just fluency; it should also account for the ways that stuttering affects the speakers’ life.
Citizens of every nation and speakers of every language across the world stutter. Multilingual speakers who stutter will stutter in every language that they speak; however, stuttering may present differently in each language.
People who stutter can be effective communicators regardless of how much they stutter. They may require additional time to speak compared to speakers who do not stutter.
These are just a few facts about stuttering. It’s important to know the facts about stuttering because it will help to dispel the common Myths About Stuttering.