Communication is key to connecting with people, voicing opinions, making requests, and expressing feelings. But what happens when a person has difficulty conveying their words?
Although many people have trouble communicating, a stuttering disorder creates a completely different hurdle. If you or someone you love has staggered speech, you’re not alone. According to studies, approximately 3 million Americans stutter.
To learn more information about stuttering symptoms, keep reading.
What Is Stuttering?
Stuttering is an issue that commonly occurs during childhood, but for some, it lasts a lifetime. It’s a speech disorder that hinders a person from communicating smoothly.
Stuttering symptoms are usually characterized by repeated words, sounds, and syllables. A person who stutters takes longer to pronounce words and has an uneven rate of speech.
The Different Types of Stuttering
There are three types of stuttering disorders.
Developmental: Very common in male children under the age of five. The issue starts as they begin to develop speech, but it usually goes away without treatment.
Neurogenic: This stuttering symptom is caused by signal abnormalities between the brain, nerves, or muscles.
Psychogenic: Originates in the area of the brain that controls thinking and reasoning.
Common Stuttering Symptoms
Stuttering is a condition that makes communication difficult for the person speaking and the person listening. The individual who is talking may repetitively stay on one syllable.
For example, they might say, “Www Whe where aaare y-you going?” A stuttering person also gets stuck on letters like K, T, or G. The challenge of speaking often causes stress, physical reactions, and other triggers such as:
- Hesitation before speaking
- Refusal to communicate
- Physical triggers like lip tremors, facial tics, constant eye blinking, and tension within the face and upper body
- Repetitious words or statements
- Frustration while communicating
- Filler words and sounds like “Um” or “Uh”
Other Complications With Stuttering
Unfortunately, stuttering symptoms not only causes issues with communication but creates difficulty in other areas of the individual’s life. Many times people who stutter are treated as if they have a mental disorder instead of a speech impairment.
It could also hinder their social and romantic relationships, as well as cause other problems like:
- Low self-esteem
- Anxiety about speaking
- Being bullied
- Complications communicating with others
- Negative effect on social, academic, or work environment
How to Make Communication Easier
Communicating with a child or adult who stutters doesn’t have to be a struggle. If they have something to say, give them your attention as you would anyone else. Make eye contact with them as they are speaking, so they can feel more at ease.
Also, try to avoid situations that could potentially make stuttering worse. Engage in conversation during relaxed moments like car rides, dinner time, or walks in the park.
Don’t make awkward faces or voice frustration when speaking with them. That’ll lead to them becoming agitated as well.
Lastly, use patience. Be present at the moment and practice active listening.
When Do Stuttering Symptoms Start?
The beginning signs of stuttering usually appear when a child is between 18 to 24 months old. This stage in their growth is when they start forming sentences, and their vocabulary begins to expand. However, it’s completely normal for kids to stutter a little at this age.
A child might stutter for a few weeks or months, and staggered speech may come and go. Most children stop having speech difficulties around the age of five. But for those with a speech disorder, stuttering is consistent and could become worse over time.
Physical movements within the face and body are associated with it as well. If you notice any of these signs in your child, treatment is needed.
What Causes Stuttering in Adults and Children?
Everyone stutters from time to time. It occurs from the natural process of putting together words and thoughts. But for those who suffer from stuttering consistently, it could be due to the following reasons:
- A family history of stuttering
- Childhood development
- Intellectual disorders
- Issues with speech motor control
- Mental or emotional dysfunction
Injuries to the brain such as a stroke can cause neurogenic stuttering. Emotional trauma triggers psychogenic stuttering.
It can also be hereditary within families due to a brain abnormality that controls language. If a parent is a stutter, one or more of the children may also inherit stuttering.
Treatment for Stuttering
A speech-language pathologist helps to diagnose stuttering. It doesn’t require any invasive testing, but the doctor will evaluate stuttering symptoms and other factors. They’ll also examine family history, how long the stuttering has lasted, stuttering behaviors, and other language difficulties.
Treatment will likely consist of several visits to a speech therapist and speech exercises. The therapist will help the individual learn how to manage laryngeal tension, monitor the rate of speech, and practice breathing.
Some people have also tried alternative methods for stuttering, such as acupuncture and electric brain stimulation.
Although it’s been said that there is no cure for stuttering, there may be ways to learn how to stop stuttering.
Why Do People Stutter? A New Perspective
There’s still a lot to learn about stuttering, but everyone can do their part to become more educated about it. Communication isn’t just about speaking— it’s about understanding. The more when we know about speech disorders, the better we can work through them.
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