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Fluency/Stuttering

  • Fluency refers to how smoothly a person's words flow during conversation. We all experience some dysfluency, moments  where we might say "um" or repeat a word from time to time during conversation. These are normal when they do not impact our ability to communicate our message. When disruptions in the fluency of speech are frequent and begin to disrupt a person's ability to communicate effectively, it is referred to as dysfluent speech also known as stuttering.

  • Some Things We Know About Stuttering:
    • It is primarily a disorder of early childhood
    • Generally has its onset before the age of 6
    • It is most frequently found in males
    • Stuttering tends to run in families
    • About 70-80% of children who begin "stuttering" recover spontaneously
    • About 20-30% do not recover spontaneously
    • Stuttering tends to occur more frequently at the beginning of an utterance, on more difficult words, or on less frequently used words

  • Basic speech behavior characteristics of stuttering consist of:
    • Part- word repetitions: child says "s-s-s-s-sometimes" or "muh-muh-muh-mother"
    • Prolongation: child says "sssssssssssometimes"
    • Blockages of air and/or voicing
       
  • Many children and adults who stutter work very hard trying NOT to stutter thus you may see the appearance of physical struggle behaviors in the form of: 
    • Facial expressions (facial grimacing or tics)
    • Head movements
    • Trunk movements
    • Movements of the arms, hands, fingers, legs 
(It is important to note that some children may never develop these behaviors, successfully hide them, or they may so mild as to be unnoticeable to the casual observer)
 
  • Speech Therapists help students develop fluency enhancing strategies and stuttering modification techniques to help reduce dysfluencies in conversational speech. Parents and teachers can help ease the anxiety of the person who stutters by being patient, allowing the person who stutters to finish their sentence, and paying attention to the content of the verbal message rather than on the stuttering.