Getting A Better Understanding Of Speech Disorders: Cluttering

Getting A Better Understanding Of Speech Disorders: Cluttering | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Arlington VA

Most of us take our ability to speak and communicate well for granted.

You simply go through your day talking to others when you need to and generally don’t give it much more thought.

Sure, occasionally you might stumble over a tricky to pronounce word or struggle to come up with a word when you need it.

Who doesn’t, right?

And, generally speaking, you recover from these issues fairly quickly.

But for someone with a fluency disorder, the act of speaking is often a source of embarrassment, negative self talk, and social and emotional anxiety.

Thankfully, there’s hope.

As more and more prominent figures talk publicly about their speech issues, we’re beginning to learn more about these types of disorders while also dispelling the myths surrounding therapy.

Most notably, President Joe Biden speaking out about growing up with a stutter has helped countless American children feel more hopeful about their own speaking and communication challenges.

RELATED: Famous People Who’ve Stuttered

But although we’re inspired by such stories, there’s still the issue of tackling the day to day challenges common with speech disorders.

Let’s take a closer look at fluency disorders, particularly cluttering speech disorder, and how speech therapy for adults with fluency disorders can help.

What Is A Fluency Disorder?

Fluency looks at how well you speak in a smooth, continuous manner.

It measures a variety of factors, such as rate of speech, continuity, effort, and smoothness.

Filler words such as “um” or “like” when speaking are common examples of disfluency, which most everyone will use from time to time.

Fluency disorders cause changes in your speech rate, rhythm, as well as well as disfluencies like repeating syllables, sounds, words, or phrases.

Additionally, fluency disorders commonly lead to a variety of mental health challenges, such as speech avoidance and social anxiety.

Stuttering and cluttering are two of the most common examples of fluency disorders.

Typical symptoms of stuttering include repetition of sounds and syllables, prolonging consonants, and blocks in speech making sound inaudible.

RELATED: Frequently Asked Questions About Stuttering

Speech therapy treatments for stutter avoidance and reduction focus on helping you work around these limitations.

Cluttering, on the other hand, causes a rapid or irregular rate of speech.

Let’s take a closer look at cluttering to better understand how speech therapy can help.

What Is Cluttering?

Cluttering causes rapid, unclear, and disorganized speech patterns.

For instance, some people who clutter have frequent breaks in their flow of speech.

Others are frequently told to slow down when speaking or that they’re speaking too quickly.

In other words, it may come across as “cluttered”.

Cluttering often affects social language skills and awareness of speech disruptions.

The difference between cluttering and stuttering is that an individual who stutters generally knows what they want to say but can’t get the words out.

Conversely, someone who is cluttering is often unsure of what they’re trying to say.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cluttering?

Cluttering symptoms may depend on a variety of factors, such as age and other coexisting conditions, such as Tourette syndrome or autism spectrum disorder.

Some of the general symptoms of cluttering include:

  • Unusual pauses in speaking
  • Extreme articulation overlaps, resulting in collapsing or omitting syllables and word endings
  • Overuse of disfluencies and filler words such as “like” or “um”
  • Unusual prosody (pauses, rhythm, varying loudness, intonation, and stress patterns)
  • Rapid speech
  • Irregular rate of speech
  • Maze behaviors (repetitions, revisions, and filling pauses)

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your child, a speech therapist at District speech can help.

We can help both assess and provide solutions for cluttering disorders.

what are the causes and symptoms of cluttering | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Arlington VA

What Causes Cluttering?

Unfortunately, research surrounding the causes of cluttering is currently lacking.

However, some factors may increase your likelihood of experiencing a cluttering disorder.

These factors are similar to what causes stuttering in adults.

Cluttering is also often related to issues surrounding speech production and self regulation.

In these cases, speech is typically produced too quickly, resulting in thoughts vocalized before they are ready.

Next, we’ll briefly outline a few more potential risk factors for cluttering.


As with many speech and language conditions, cluttering is positively linked with genetics.

That is to say that you’re more likely to experience a cluttering disorder if you have family members who also clutters.

A 2017 study by Frigerio-Domingues and Drayna asserts that certain (currently unknown) genes are responsible for stuttering’s emergence.

Hopefully future research will shed more light on the exact genes which cause stuttering and cluttering.


Gender also appears to play a role in stuttering and cluttering.

According to The Stuttering Foundation, this is the strongest risk factor for fluency disorders.

Men are more likely to have a fluency disorder than women.

Other Neurological Disorders

Certain neurological conditions may increase your risk of experiencing cluttering or another fluency disorder.

Examples include:

RELATED: Does ADHD Cause Stuttering?

How Can A Speech Therapist Help?

Now that you’ve read all about the symptoms and potential causes for cluttering, you might wonder how a speech therapist can help.

At District Speech, our speech therapists are qualified to both assess for speech and language disorders as well as provide solutions for them.

Solutions for cluttering often focuses on techniques to slow and regulate speech.

Some of these may include:

  • Increased pausing
  • Simulation of a fast rate of speech, and applying pauses
  • Increasing awareness of communication breakdowns (through listener reactions)
  • Working to improve self regulation of rate and clarity of speech
  • Increasing emphasis on word endings and multi syllabic words
  • Practicing keeping a consistent volume when speaking

Ultimately the type of therapy used will depend on you or your child’s specific strengths and needs.

Group therapy support is often helpful in encouraging proper speaking techniques.

Pediatric speech therapy for cluttering also focuses on parent education.

Your child’s speech therapist will provide you with the knowledge you need to encourage your child to develop their speech in a natural way.

As with most treatments helped by speech therapy, early intervention is key to getting the best results.

However, your speech therapist can help with cluttering disorder well into adulthood.

RELATED: Communication Deficits In Adults

Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today

Do you or your child have trouble when trying to speak?

Do you show symptoms of a speech disorder such as cluttering or stuttering?

Do you hear from your coworkers or your child’s teacher that they have issues understanding?

We’re District Speech, and we’re here to help.

Servicing Washington DC, Arlington VA and the surrounding area, one or our speech therapists can assess your child for potential speech disorders and work with you and to create a treatment plan.

Book your appointment with District Speech today to help improve your speech and confidence.

District Speech and Language Therapy
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005


District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.