Stuttering or disfluency is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. Stuttering is also referred to as stammering.

A child who stutters occasionally repeats syllables or words once or twice, li-li-like this. They may also hesitate or use filler sounds such as "uh", "er", "um".

Stuttering most often occurs between ages 1 1/2 to 5 years. It may come and go. Stuttering is usually a sign that a child is learning to use language in new ways. If stuttering stops for several weeks, then return, the child may be going through another stage of learning.

A child with milder stuttering repeats sounds more than twice, li-li-li-li-like this. Tension and struggle may be evident in the facial muscles, especially around the mouth.

The pitch of the voice may rise with repetitions, and occasionally the child will experience a "block" -- no airflow or voice for several seconds. In a child with mild disfluency, stuttering may come and go but is present more often than absent.

A child with more severe disfluency stutters on more than 10% of his speech. He will display considerable effort and tension. He avoids stuttering by changing words and uses extra sounds to get started. Complete blocks of speech are more common than repetitions or prolongations A child with severe stuttering will profit from having therapy with a specialist in stuttering.

Description of the speech & language evaluation:

The Speech language pathologist (SLP) will take an extensive history and discuss your concerns.

The (SLP) will talk with your child and complete some tests. A language sample will be taken. The child will be asked a series of questions and a percentage of stuttering as well as attitudinal factors will be assessed.


Stuttering therapy for preschool and school age children typically involves changing the way parents speak and interact with their child to reduce time pressures and increase fluent speech. In addition a more direct therapy approach such as the Lidcombe program may be used to assist a child with more persistent stuttering behavior.

Stuttering therapy for teens usually means changing long-standing speech behaviors, emotions, and attitudes about talking and communication in general. As a result, the length and type of therapy can vary greatly depending on your goals.

A list of sample therapy goals for teens and adults includes:

  • Reducing the frequency of stuttering;
  • Decreasing the tension and struggle of stuttering moments;
  • Working to decrease word or situation avoidances;
  • Learning more about stuttering;
  • Using effective communication skills such as eye contact or phrasing; and,
  • Determining whether goals relate to long-term change or to meet a specific short-term need, such as a job interview.


Copyright © , Intermountain Healthcare, All rights reserved.