CINCINNATI—Almost 3 million Americans experience stuttering, or "disfluency,” with their speech. These disfluencies can result in repeated words, "blocking” on sounds or drawing out syllables. Worse, they can make speakers feel tense or anxious when communicating with others.
While there are no definitive causes for stuttering, there are many resources for children, parents, teens and adults who stutter, locally and nationally.
Many preschool-aged children experience "normal nonfluent speech” which can be a part of typical speech and language development, says Phyllis Breen, University of Cincinnati adjunct assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders.
While most of these children will recover in a few years, there are some signs that indicate when a child should be seen by a speech-language pathologist.
- Stuttering that lasts more than six months and occurs frequently during the day
- A child showing tension, a facial grimace, or struggle behavior during speech
- A child who avoids certain talking situations, words or shows frustration or embarrassment during speech.
- A family history of stuttering and gender (boys are 3 to 4 times more likely than girls to persist in stuttering)
Early intervention through speech therapy is key to helping children manage disfluencies and build their confidence in communication.
For teens and adults, regular speech therapy and support groups can help them feel comfortable in stressful speaking situations and learn management techniques.
Breen says national organizations like the National Stuttering Association offer hints for parents and others on how best to interact with someone who stutters.
"Listeners should make sure to maintain eye contact with their speaking partner,” she says. "Listen and and try not to finish sentences, fill in words or give them advice. Show the other person that what he or she says is more important than how they say it.”
Many local organizations have resources for children and families. Each year, UC’s College of Allied Health Sciences, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Hamilton County Educational Service Center co-host Fluency Friday, a day-long event for children and families to learn about disfluency and share their experiences.
Throughout the year, both UC and Cincinnati Children’s offer personalized services and group classes on disfluency and other speech-language services for children, teens and families.
For more information regarding speech-language services and clinics at UC, contact the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at 513-558-8503 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about the Cincinnati Children's Speech-Language Pathology Division and their fluency team by calling 513-636-4341 emailing email@example.com