Stuttering is a speech disorder that involves interruptions in the rhythm or flow of speech. These interruptions may include repeated sounds, words or phrases, as well as prolonged sounds, or blocks (attempts to speak without producing any sound). Stuttering can evolve at a young age, alongside the development of speech and language skills (developmental stuttering), or it can be acquired, for example after a head injury (acquired stuttering). The cause of developmental stuttering is unknown, but it is thought that there is a genetic factor. Developmental stuttering may resolve without intervention, however we have very little research to tell us which children will or will not stop stuttering by themselves.
Stuttering is NOT caused because a person is anxious or nervous about speaking, however stuttering can be made worse by these situations.
When to seek help:
- When stuttering persists. A stutter that has persisted for 12 months is very unlikely to resolve on its own.
- If your child becomes self-conscious, anxious or avoids talking/ socialising because of their stutter.
- If stuttering is still present once a child begins school
- When stuttering impacts upon a person’s quality of life (i.e. socially, in the work place, in the school yard/classroom, etc)