Stuttering

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Stuttering Speech Therapist giving speech lessons to child

Stuttering Speech Therapist

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by the interruption of fluency, resulting in the repetition of words, fragments of sentences, or sounds. People who stutter often prolong the pronunciation of a single word or sound and may also experience tension in their facial muscles while trying to communicate effectively.

Stuttering is a common occurrence during the early stages of a child’s linguistic development, typically appearing between the ages of 2 and 6. It is worth mentioning that there is a higher incidence of stuttering in males compared to females. Stuttering can occur in both children and adults, with many cases resolving by the start of school but some persisting into adulthood. However, it is important to note that stuttering in adults is relatively uncommon, making up less than 1% of all cases.

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What Causes Stuttering?

The exact causes of childhood stuttering remain unknown to doctors and scientists, leaving them unsure. However, many experts agree that several factors contribute to the issue, including difficulties in coordinating brain signals with the necessary muscles and body parts for speaking fluently.

There is a widespread belief that there is a genetic link to stuttering. According to research, there is a threefold increase in the likelihood of children who stutter having a close family member who stutters, or did in the past.

Ongoing studies are currently being conducted to explore the factors that contribute to stuttering. This speech impediment may be a result of the natural cognitive process of aligning thoughts and words. Furthermore, there are numerous factors that can contribute to the development of stuttering in individuals, including:

  • A history of stuttering in the family.
  • Individuals with intellectual disabilities
  • Speech motor control issues.
  • Brain injuries or other serious medical conditions
  • Issues concerning emotional and mental health.

What are the symptoms of stuttering?

Speech involves the coordinated movement of muscles in different parts of the body, such as the face, mouth, throat, chest, and abdomen. Stuttering interferes with the process of verbal expression by causing involuntary contractions or convulsions in the essential muscles.

Stuttering is characterized by a set of seven essential symptoms that are used to establish its official criteria. To receive a diagnosis from a healthcare professional, it is necessary to show at least one of these symptoms:

  • Repeating sounds or syllables: This typically occurs when pronouncing the first syllable of a word. The repetition of the sound or syllable continues until the entire word can be spoken, at which point normal speech can resume.
  • Holding and drawing out certain syllables or sounds: When you come across a sound or syllable that temporarily stops your flow of speech patterns and causes you to extend it more than intended, that is referred to as being stuck.
  • Mid-word pauses: When you come across a sound or syllable that pauses your progress and causes you to extend it more than intended, that is known as being stuck.
  • Blocking: The act of regularly interrupting oneself during speech, either through periods of silence or by using filler words like “um” or “ah,” is referred to as habitual pausing. The term suggests the experience of encountering an obstacle that disrupt the flow of words.
  • Word switching: When facing difficulties in pronouncing or expressing a word or phrase, people often substitute it with another word or phrase to overcome the issue.
  • Overstressing: The application of excessive strain or pressure to a term indicates this phenomenon.
  • Repeating single-syllable words: This involves the duplication of a single linguistic element, such as the pronoun “I” or “the.”
How is stuttering diagnosed

How is stuttering diagnosed?

The awareness of a child’s stuttering typically comes from parents, educators, and relatives. Parents should inform their child’s physician if they observe signs of stuttering.

The evaluation process conducted by Jihan Everett encompasses multiple aspects that assist in diagnosing your child’s condition. Examining your child’s background, observing their stuttering patterns, and analyzing the impact of this speech difficulty on their daily life are all important aspects of this evaluation.

How is stuttering treated?

Stuttering, regardless of the type, is primarily addressed through speech therapy. For children, a range of educational activities and exercises are used to help reduce stuttering symptoms. The speech therapy activities and techniques chosen for stuttering are specifically tailored to the type, severity, and symptoms of the individual. Moreover, the frequency and duration of therapy sessions can also impact the overall treatment outcomes.

Medications are not usually prescribed for direct treatment of stuttering. However, medications can be used to effectively treat mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, which often occur alongside and worsen stuttering.

How long does stuttering last?

By the age of 18, a substantial percentage of children, around 90%, naturally overcome developmental stuttering without the need for intervention. After recovering, individuals generally do not experience a resurgence in stuttering, unless it is acquired stuttering.

The duration of acquired stuttering depends on the cause, which can lead to either a temporary or permanent condition. If the stuttering is caused by severe or irreversible brain damage, it is likely to be a permanent condition. To gain a better understanding of your specific circumstances and prognosis, it is recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider.

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