Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak.
What causes stuttering?
There are four factors most likely to contribute to the development of stuttering:
genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also)
child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter)
neurophysiology (recent neurological research has shown that people who stutter process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter)
family dynamics (high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can contribute to stuttering)
Stuttering may occur when a combination of factors comes together and may have different causes in different people.
How many people stutter?
More than 68 million people worldwide stutter, which is about 1% of the population. In the United States, that's over 3 million Americans who stutter.
What is the ratio of males to females who stutter?
Stuttering affects four times as many males as females.
How many children stutter?
Approximately 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more. Three-quarters of those will recover by late childhood, leaving about 1% with a long-term problem. The best prevention tool is early intervention.
Is stuttering caused by emotional or psychological problems?
Children and adults who stutter are no more likely to have psychological or emotional problems than children and adults who do not. There is no reason to believe that emotional trauma causes stuttering.
I think my child is beginning to stutter. Should I wait or seek help?
It is best to seek ways that you, the parents, can help as soon as possible. If the stuttering persists beyond three to six months or is particularly severe, you may want to seek help from a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering right away.
The Stuttering Foundation has an excellent brochure to help parents communicate with the dysfluent child (http://www.stutteringhelp.org/7-tips-talking-your-child).
Can stuttering be treated?
Yes, there are a variety of successful approaches for treating both children and adults. In general, the earlier, the better is good advice.
I read about a new cure for stuttering. Is there such a thing?
There are no instant miracle cures for stuttering. Therapy, electronic devices, and even drugs are not an overnight process. However, a specialist in stuttering can help not only children but also teenagers, young adults and even older adults make significant progress toward fluency.
The Stuttering Foundation is an excellent resource. Click here for more information http://www.stutteringhelp.org/. Additionally, McKinney is home to Nina Reardon Reeves, a nationally recognized stuttering expert and author. Her website is also full of information (http://www.ninareeves.com).