Stuttering is the most common type of fluency disorder. The cause of stuttering is unknown. Children and adults who experience stuttering may have disruptions in their flow of speech consisting of: repetitions, prolongations, or blocks. In addition, individuals who stutter may experience negative feelings about their communication with others. Stuttering may be genetic and run in families. Most stuttering begins between the ages of two and a half and five years. Once stuttering begins it may disappear for a few months or it may gradually get worse. Approximately 75% of children who begin to stutter will recover without intervention. More males than females persist with stuttering. The signs of a fluency disorder may worsen in the presence of stress or anxiety.
Cluttering is another fluency disorder. The speech of a person who clutters may sound rapid, unclear, and/or disorganized. There may excessive breaks in the normal flow of speech that sound like disorganized speech planning, talking too fast or in spurts, or simply being unsure of what one wants to say. Characteristics of cluttering include over-articulating a word resulting in sounds and syllables blended together; excessive use of interjections (e.g., um, uh, er), phrase and/or sentence revisions, and unnatural pauses resulting in spurts or jerky sounding speech. Cluttering and stuttering can occur together but are considered two different fluency disorders.
Accurate diagnosis of a fluency disorder requires the skills of a certified speech language pathologist. UWSHC provides comprehensive evaluation and therapy services for preschool and school-aged children, college students, and adults. The course of treatment is based on results of a diagnostic evaluation and is individualized based on the client’s needs.
Treatment options may include the following:
Fluency shaping: Learning strategies to prevent or minimize the occurrence of stuttering.
Stuttering modification: Learning techniques to use before, during or after a stuttering moment to reduce severity.
Counseling: Addresses negative thoughts and feelings associated with speech/stuttering.
Cluttering therapy: Remediation of the symptoms of disorganized language that lead to revisions, phrase repetitions, interjections, poor communication skills, articulation errors, rapid or irregular speech rate, lack of awareness and attention problems.
Indirect therapy approach: This approach is often implemented when a young child is not aware of, or frustrated by, their stuttering. The approach involves parent/caregiver coaching and modifying the child’s environment rather than working directly with the child.