People who stutter are normal, they just have difficulty producing sounds and words fluently. 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.
Stuttering is a communication disorder involving disruptions, or “disfluencies,” in a person’s speech.
Stuttering can begin gradually and develop over time, or it can appear suddenly.
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.
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.
It’s estimated about 1% of the world’s population stutters, though about 5% of children go through a period of stuttering.
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 often try to avoid stuttering, perhaps by trying to speak quickly, by forcing through moments of stuttering, or by not speaking at all when they fear that they might stutter. These behaviors can actually increase the likelihood that more stuttering will result, and they lead to a greater impact of stuttering on the 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.