Acquired Stuttering – is a broad term that refers to non-developmental stuttering and is interchanged with other terms such as “adult onset stuttering”, “neurogenic stuttering”, and “psychogenic stuttering”.
Advertising – (also known as ‘disclosing’) stuttering refers to being open about the subject of stuttering; letting other people know from the start of a conversation that you are a person who stutters. Self-advertising can be an empowering strategy for people to use, especially covert stutterers, so they do not feel the pressing need to hide their stuttering. It can also reduce or eliminate avoidance and secondary stuttering behaviors. Through self-advertising, people can realize that it acceptable to stutter in front of others and that one does not need to have flawless speech to be an effective communicator. See Disclosing.
Block – when vocalizing stops before or during a sound or word
Bullying – When words or deeds are used to hurt someone or cause harm. Bullies try to make the person they are bullying feel afraid, rejected, or hurt. (This is contrasted with Teasing which is what we have all experienced and enjoyed as harmless “ribbing” from our family and friends; a way to show love or good feelings toward others. Teasing is having fun. Unlike bullying, it is not meant to control or harm anyone).
Cluttering – a type of fluency disorder that can coincide with stuttering or occur by itself. Cluttered speech may include rapid and/or irregular speech rate, atypical pauses, excessive linguistic nonfluencies, decreased awareness of one’s intelligibility, collapsing or omitting syllables, and language issues in general.
Covert Stuttering– Covert stuttering is a strategy employed by a person who stutters to hide an otherwise overt, audible stutter. A covert stutterer may use word substitutions, circumlocution, and avoid certain words and situations which may trigger stuttering. People who are covert stutterers may go to great lengths to conceal their stuttering from others.
Desensitization – A process through which people can successfully overcome their fears, as well as other negative emotions such as shame or guilt, by gradually experiencing them in a supportive environment following a systematic, controlled hierarchy.
Developmental Stuttering – occurs in young children who are still acquiring speech and language skills. Most scientists and clinicians believe that developmental stuttering stems from complex interactions of multiple factors including neurophysiological differences and genetics.
Disclosing – (also known as ‘advertising’) stuttering refers to being open about the subject of stuttering; letting other people know from the start of a conversation that you are a person who stutters. Self-advertising can be an empowering strategy for people to use, especially covert stutterers, so they do not feel the pressing need to hide their stuttering. It can also reduce or eliminate avoidance and secondary stuttering behaviors. Through self-advertising, people can realize that it acceptable to stutter in front of others and that one does not need to have flawless speech to be an effective communicator. See Advertising.
Dysfluency – the interruption in the smooth flow of speech, such as a pause or repetition of a word or part of a word.
Evaluation – Certified speech-language pathologists (SLPs) perform evaluations, or formal assessments, to determine whether an individual has a speech or language disruption. During a typical evaluation for a child, the SLP obtains a case history from the parents and observes/interacts with the child. Standardized tests are administered and informal observational assessments are conducted for both children and adults to determine a proper diagnosis. In a stuttering evaluation, the SLP may ask the clients about their family history, the stuttering history, how stuttering affects their daily lives, how they perceive their stuttering and their personal goals for treatment. This information is used to determine what kind of dysfluencies the person demonstrates, whether there are any complicating factors, the prognosis for improvement and possible goals for therapy.
Fluency Shaping – a behavioral speech therapy approach that aims to alter clients’ breathing, speech rate, voice production, and articulation to elicit fluent speech. Visit ASHA’s website to learn more about speech therapy.
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – A federal law that ensures services to children with disabilities (please see idea.ed.gov).
IEP – Individualized Education Plan- As mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), an IEP is designed to meet the needs of a child who has a disability or special learning need. Children between the ages of three and 21 with speech/language disruption who are in the public schools can receive evaluation and intervention services free of charge. If a child qualifies for speech-language services through the school district, the IEP team identifies the needs of the student, what services will meet those needs, and the individual speech and/or language goals. Parents work with teachers and SLPs to develop the student’s IEP, including goals and procedures for achieving them.
Intersectionality – Refers to how a person’s experience of stuttering is influenced by factors such as race, gender, class, and disability. Acknowledging intersectionality helps us understand the diverse experiences of people who stutter and promotes inclusivity and equity.
Person Who Stutters (PWS) vs. Stutterer – The terms “person who stutters” (PWS) and “stutterer” both refer to individuals who experience stuttering, but they carry different connotations. “Person who stutters” is a person-first language, which emphasizes the individual before their condition. It is a way of acknowledging that stuttering is just one aspect of the person’s identity and that it does not define them completely. On the other hand, “stutterer” is an identity-first language, which places the condition before the person. While some people who stutter may choose to identify as a stutterer, it is important to note that not all people who stutter prefer this term. It is important to respect individuals’ preferences when it comes to the language used to describe their experiences with stuttering. Some may prefer person-first language while others may prefer identity-first language. It is recommended to ask the individual how they prefer to be referred to.
Prolongation – the involuntary lengthening of airflow or speech.
Recovery – generally, refers to returning to a normal health condition or normal state. Research suggests that around 80% of children who start to stutter naturally recover from stuttering.
Repetition – the involuntary repeating of a sound, word or part of a word.
Self-help Support – people with, or affected by, a common need or condition working to help others with the same condition, often in an informal manner with the goal of bringing about personal or social change
Standardized – Any measure that is given in the same way to all people who take it. For example, standardized tests are administered using a protocol that must be strictly followed. If the protocol is not followed, the results of the test may be invalid. Sometimes referred to as “formal” measures.
Stuttering Modification – The goal of stuttering modification therapy is not to eliminate stuttering, but rather to modify the moments of stuttering so the disfluencies are less severe. Other objectives of stuttering modification therapy include reducing the fear of stuttering and eliminating avoidance behaviors. Stuttering modification therapy often includes identifying core and secondary stuttering behaviors, learning desensitization techniques, and specific stuttering modification techniques such as stopping in the middle of a stutter (cancellations), pulling out of a stutter and transitioning into smooth, fluent speech (pull-outs) and using easy stuttering on words which the speaker may anticipate stuttering (prepatory sets). Visit ASHA’s website to learn more about speech therapy.
Stuttering – A frequently misused and misunderstood word that means many different things to different people. Primarily, it can refer to observable behaviors (e.g., “stuttered speech”) or it can refer to the stuttering, which comprises both the observable behaviors as well as a variety of “under the surface” features including fear, avoidance, attitudes, beliefs, etc., that are experienced by the person who stutters but are not seen by the listener. Many people confuse the two uses of the term.
Secondary Characteristics (secondaries) – In addition to speech dysfluency (word, sound or syllable repetitions, prolongations and blocks), many people who stutter exhibit secondary symptoms unrelated to speech production. Some secondary characteristics or “secondaries” include eye blinking, facial tension, lip tremors, head jerks or other unusual body movements. Secondary characteristics also include avoiding feared words, interjecting starter words (such as “um” or “you know”) or switching words midsentence.
Edited by Angela Medina, PhD, CCC-SLP and Courtney Margulis, MA, CCC-SLP (5/2023)