Everyone struggles with their words here and there. Whether you’re nervous, tired, or confused, it’s normal to have a few um or uh moments.

But if it happens more frequently, you may be facing a deeper issue with stuttering.

A stutter disorder can be frustrating, but there is hope.

Here at District Speech, we provide speech and language therapy for stutter reduction. Whether you’re concerned about your child’s stutter, or you’ve lived with one for many years, we can help.

Read on to find out more about this condition, what causes it, and how District Speech can help you get relief.

What Is Stuttering?

Simply put, stuttering is a speech disorder where your speech tends to be repetitive, prolonged, and interrupted.

There are three different types of stutter. You may experience a block, where you have difficulty saying a word. This often manifests as a prolonged pause. For example, you might say “my favourite food is…………….. French toast.” You might also stretch sounds out for far longer than normal. For example, you might say “French toooooooooooooast.” Finally, you might repeat parts of a word, like “French to-to-to-toast.”

Each of the above issues is considered a “disfluency”. They’re all unique, but they’re all considered a form of stutter. Along with them, you might have certain behaviours like a trembling lip, rapid eye movement, or other facial tics.

It’s important to note that people who stutter generally know what they want to say. Their cognitive abilities work just fine from the perspective of forming sentences. The problem is related more with their ability to produce speech.

Your stuttering might fluctuate during different parts of your day, or depending on the type of speech. For example, you may have an easier time reading aloud or singing than you do speaking to people.

Why Is Stuttering A Problem?

Not being able to communicate with others is clearly frustrating. But the issues can run far deeper than that.

Difficulty communicating with others can affect your interpersonal relationships. If you can’t make your needs known, you may end up feeling frustrated or dissatisfied with the people in your life.

As well, those who stutter often perceive themselves as inferior in the workplace, often not approaching their colleagues or superiors for fear that they might stutter. This is particularly unfortunate, because in many cases those with a stutter disorder are highly intelligent and educated. However, as a result they may miss out on career advancement in favour of others.

What Causes Stuttering?

There are a number of different causes of stuttering, and research is still ongoing into its causes.

However, some of the known causes include:

  • A speech motor control difficulty
  • Emotional or mental health issues
  • A traumatic brain injury
  • A family history of stuttering
  • Drug abuse
  • An intellectual disability
  • An issue during childhood development
  • A stroke

In most cases, a stutter takes root between ages 2 and 6. In some cases, children grow out of a stutter. However, if it lasts for more than six months, book an appointment with District Speech.

Who Develops A Stutter?

Broadly speaking, anyone can develop a stutter. However, certain people are at greater risk.

In particular, young boys are more likely to develop a stutter than girls.

As well, certain life events may trigger a stutter. These include abuse, trauma, or more benign situations like a young child learning a large number of new words quickly.

In children who have developed a stutter, frustration, excitement, embarrassment, fear, or anxiety can aggravate the existing stutter.

If you have a stutter that runs in your family, and your other family members were able to stop stuttering, it’s more likely you’ll be able to stop as well.

When Should You Seek Treatment For A Stuttering Child?

If your child has a stutter, they may grow out of it. However, here are some of the warning signs that show whether you ought to seek treatment.

  • Your child’s stutter lasts for more than 6 months
  • You have a family history of stuttering
  • Your child has another speech disorder or learning disability
  • Your child begins to stutter after age 3
  • Your child’s stutter seems to be getting worse

How To Diagnose Stuttering

For adults, stuttering is generally self-evident. If you have an issue with stuttering that’s bad enough to seek treatment, that’s generally good enough.

Running tests for stuttering in children is different, though. A stutter is about more than just the disfluencies your child displays.

At District Speech, we test for the following issues:

  • What disfluencies your child display, and how many
  • How your child reacts to their stuttering
  • How your child tries to correct their stutter
  • What your child’s social life is like, and how their stutter affects it
  • How your child performs in school

Based on the answers to these issues, your speech therapist will be able to tell whether your child has a stutter, and what’s causing it.

Speech Therapy Treatments For Young Children Who Stutter

If your child turns out to have a stuttering disorder, there are a number of different treatment angles to take. The approach depends on your child’s abilities, severity of their disorder, how it impacts your child’s life, and who in their lives we can get involved. Ideally, we should involve you, your child, the other people in your family, and their teacher.

In general for young children, treatment will focus on:

  • Changing how your child speaks
  • Making it easier for your child to speak the way they already do
  • Changing parent responses to the child’s stuttering

As your child’s caregiver, you’ll play an important role in their treatment. Your child’s speech therapist will help you understand how to make changes at home to improve your child’s ability to speak and how they feel about speaking in general.

Speech Therapy Treatment For Older Children And Adults Who Stutter

For anyone older than about 6 years of age, we need to take a different approach to treatment.

Your speech therapist will work with you to feel less anxious around talking, as well as manage your fears around certain speaking situations. They can also help you find ways to manage your stutter, working on techniques designed to reduce your stuttering symptoms.

In general, early intervention is ideal when it comes to speech therapy treatment for stuttering. However, your speech therapist can still make a significant difference in your quality of life and help you learn how to accept your stutter and “own it”. Adults who stutter struggle with things most people take for granted, including but not limited to:

  • Making a phone call
  • Ordering what they want at a restaurant
  • Introducing themselves

Many adults who stutter have not told others they stutter. They hide stuttering by word switching (saying words they won’t stutter on) and by avoiding social situations. This ultimately prevents them from being who they are and saying what they want. Adults who stutter often live with a constant fear that someone will see them stutter. Social situations become scary for them rather than something to embrace and enjoy.

If you’re a person who stutters, the end goal of stuttering therapy is for you to be a good communicator and to not let stuttering stop you from living. Your speech therapist will work with you toward making that happen.

Book An Appointment With District Speech

Do you or your child stutter?

Are you concerned with how this may impact your or your child’s life?

If so, book your appointment with District Speech today.

Our experienced and licensed team of speech pathologists can help you overcome your fear of stuttering, helping improve your quality of life and reducing this major barrier to your dreams and goals.

Don’t let stuttering stop you from living the life you want. Book an appointment with District Speech today, and enjoy true freedom in your speech.

Book your appointment with District Speech today.

Have a speech concern? District Speech can help. 

Contact us today to find out how.