What is Stuttering?

Stuttering is considered a communication disorder. A person who stutters (PWS) experiences a feeling of loss of control on his/her speech, in which, despite “know[ing] precisely what s/he wishes to say (…) is unable to say [it] because of an involuntary repetition, prolongation or cessation of a sound” (World Health Organization, 2007). These experiences may generate negative thoughts or emotions associated with communication that can have a profound impact on PWS’ communicative attitude and quality of life.

Who stutters?

70 million people globally are estimated to stutter. Approximately 5% of children go through a period of stuttering. Of these, 1% is left with persistent stuttering.

Why do people stutter?

Several research projects are underway to explain why people stutter. It is generally accepted by the scientific community that stuttering is caused by a combination of factors that affect how the brain processes motor speech control (abnormalities in speech motor system, sensory and motor incoordination, timing). According to The Stuttering Foundation: “The evidence for genetic factors in stuttering is overwhelming, with genetic factors playing a role in at least half of all cases (…) [though the level of] severity does not [play any role]”.

“An individual who stutters exactly knows what s/he would like to say but has trouble producing a normal flow of speech. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by struggle behaviors, such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips. Stuttering (…) affects a person’s quality of life and interpersonal relationships” (NIDCD, 2017) (Butler, 2014). Consequently, without a proper care, it can impact negatively a person’s job performance and opportunities.

How to handle it?

Symptoms of stuttering can vary significantly throughout a person’s day. Speaking before a group or talking on the telephone may cause a more severe stuttering, while singing, reading, or speaking in unison may momentarily reduce stuttering. Stuttering does not have a cure, but, with the help of a speech therapist, PWS learn how to handle it in its different dimensions, i.e. emotions and fluency.

Our speech therapists pursue a treatment path that incorporates:

  • Strategies to cope with physical tension during stuttering moments;
  • Ways of addressing negative emotions/ perceptions related with stuttering, e.g. progressive public exposure and fear reduction training;
  • Strengthening communication skills, namely the ability to engage in daily social interactions, public speaking and job interviews;
  • Trust-building for a more comfortable and relaxed communication flow.

In short, our therapists will work to help PWS to overcome difficult (and oftentimes traumatic) communication experiences, replacing them for a highly functional and comfortable stuttering that will enable them to feel more confident and participative, without losing authenticity.

Know more about the condition
Check some of our supporting documents
As a pediatrician how can I help a PWS child?
As a professor, how can I help a student who stutters?
As a parent or tutor, how can I help a child who stutters?

For more information view our FAQ page.

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