Stuttering is a speech pattern that contains an abnormally high frequency or duration of disruptions in the forward flow of speech affecting its continuity, rhythm, rate, and effortfulness. A disruption in speech is called a disfluency. We all have disfluencies in our speech, such as “uh”, “um”, pausing, or rewording, but it is only considered stuttering when we are disfluent more than ten percent of the time. The Essentials of Stuttering
Fluency is the effortless flow of speech. There are four parts to fluency: continuity, rate, rhythm, and effort. Stuttering affects all four parts. Continuity is the smoothness of speech. It is decreased by how often and where pauses happen in speech and by how many extra sounds are added. Rate is how fast or slow speech is, and is measured by words or syllables spoken per minute. The rate of information and sound flow is too slow for people who stutter. That is why it can be harder to listen to them. Rhythm is the pattern of speech and it depends on intonation, stress pattern, timing, and duration. People who stutter have disruptions that are louder, longer, and slightly higher pitched. This is what makes disfluencies more noticeable. Lastly, effort is how much mental or physical work it takes to talk. Normal speech is not effortful. It takes people who stutter more effort to talk. It takes mental effort to think ahead of time about what words won’t make you stutter and it takes physical effort to stop or escape from a stutter. Stuttering affects many children as they learn to speak. This is called developmental stuttering. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren’t developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow developmental stuttering, often within four years. About three quarters or more of very young children who stutter are prone to recover without any form of treatment. Stuttering usually begins at a time when the child is integrating speech and language skills within a changing physical and neurological makeup during a dynamic expansion of communication demands, personal interactions, and situational experiences. Some children begin stuttering as soon as they begin combining words, but this is not very common. Most do not start until approximately one year later, around the age of two or three. About ninety percent of children who stutter begin to do so before the age of six. Stuttering can begin either suddenly, intermediately, or gradually. The progression of stuttering severity is often episodic, containing oscillations that range from no stuttering to mild to severe across time. Influences: Factors that may Contribute to the Development of Stuttering Family dynamics can have an influence. Some examples of these factors include parental attitudes and expectations, the child’s speech and language environment, and stressful life events. This does not mean that the parents are doing anything wrong. Often these things are not harmful to a child that doesn’t stutter, but can aggravate stuttering in a child that has a tendency to stutter. Other’s reactions to stuttering are a big problem. Often people don’t know how to react. They are awkwardly caught off guard, or they can’t wait for the person who stutters to finish what they are saying. There are good reasons to believe that those who stutter have expectancies of social harm. Research suggests that those who stutter differ from control subjects in their expectation of negative social evaluation. While these peer reactions do have an impact on stuttering, it is unknown whether social anxiety mediates stuttering or is a simple by-product of stuttering. Developmental factors are believed to be a contributing factor. During the preschool years, a child’s physical, cognitive, social/emotional, and speech/language skills are developing at a very rapid rate. This rapid development can lead to stuttering in children who are predisposed to it. This is why...
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