Stammering (or stuttering) is
defined as a disorder of rhythm in
which the speaker knows precisely what he wishes
to say, but cannot, for the moment, say it
because of an involuntary repetition,
prolongation or cessation of sound.
hear when a Stammerer is speaking, is someone
who may be repeating himself on sounds or words,
stretching out a sound or blocking getting stuck
on a sound. People are often unaware that this
"blocking" is also stammering. As well
there may be words added to try to get him
"started", for example "oh
yeah" or "uhmm-er"
Frequently, there may be behaviours
associated with Stammering that we can see as
well as hear. There may be lack of eye contact,
tapping in rhythm, clicking of fingers, or body
Even though stammering can
be commonly defined, each Stammerer has his own
How Often does it
the population stammer.
Approximately 1% of Primary School
children stammer, that is 1 in every 100.
is a difference between males and females - 3
males to 1 female stammer.
still does not know the exact cause of
genetic or inherited component has been
that if a parent is a Stammerer, the child will
have a higher chance of stammering compared with
someone whose parents do not stammer.
research has shown that Stammerers are less able
to plan physical actions accurately.
But this does not mean that
they are poor sports people or that they are
only observable area where difference shows up
between those who stammer and those who don't is
in the speech.
know that a Stammerer is no different to someone
who does not stammer in the following areas:
emotionally, psychologically or intellectually.
each person who is a Stammerer with problems in
these areas, there is a non-stammerer who may
have the same problems.
Unfortunately, the Stammerer is often
tagged: shy, nervous or slow.
At school, this
can cause a drop in achievement levels. As an
adult, it can affect the choice of job or
employment opportunities offered to him because
of these tags.
Like any normal individual,
the Stammerer soon learns to dislike or retreat
from areas that he regularly does not do well
in. Not doing well, in this case, is represented
Examples of this retreat or
dislike are: talking to groups, answering
questions in class, speaking on the telephone.
Most children who
stammer have started to demonstrate this
behaviour by the time they are five years of
They do have a chance of "growing out
of it". This chance, unfortunately, becomes
slimmer as children grow older. It is unlikley
that a child at the end of Primary School
education will stop stammering without
treatment. Early assessment by a qualified
Speech Pathologist (therapist) is recommended at
a young age.
Most children, while
acquiring speech and language - that is: sounds,
words, grammar and all communication skills - go
through a period of normal dysfluency. The sorts
of things we identify in this category are:
word and phrase repetitions such as "Mummy,
I-I-I went to the shop".
Revisions and interjections into speech
such as "Mummy, I-we went to the
The sorts of things we
identify as Stammering in young children are:
Prolongations such as
- where the child appears to be in a momentary
spasm in the face and/or throat area.
Inserting a sound due to tension such as
"b-eaby" for "baby".
Uncontrollable pitch change.
Multiple repetition of sounds such as
Multiple part word repetitions such as
We also know that
Stammerers may be late in passing their speech
milestones. This is not to suggest that the
Stammering child remains behind, but that he may
have problems to start with.
Stammering (or Stammering) can be
Stammerers themselves often
report that they may stammer less when: singing,
praying, reading with someone, or whispering.
Unfortunately, we cannot go around whispering or
singing every time we want to talk.
also know that common advice given by parents -
stop; slow down; think before you talk; breathe
- can also be effective.
By using some, or
all, of these pieces of knowledge, the best
treatment generally makes the job of speaking
less complicated. It does this through teaching
step-by-step how to change the sounds, rhythm,
speed, breathing, or all of these so as to stop
a stammer from happening.
By the time someone is
thirty (30) years of age, they may have had
200,000 hours of practice at Stammering.
teenager may have about half of these hours.
Therefore they need help to practice "not
stammering" after treatment.
Associations such as Weight
Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous are there to
help people practise new skills.
Other organisation exist to help
Stammerers to stay fluent. That is - not
The period immediately
after treatment is the time most widely
recognised as being the most difficult one in
which new speech skills are being used.
What can you do if
you are a Parent
your child assessed by a Speech Pathologist.
your own speech down.
him down, not just his speech. For example, if
the child is very excited or upset, settle or
slow down his overall behaviour first, then his
give him "air time" to talk.
on what the child is saying:- for example:
Child: "Mummy, b-b-b-erlue car".
Mummy: "That's right, it's a blue car.
Daddy has a big blue car too, hasn't
This lets the child know
that you are listening to what he is saying, not
just how he is saying it. You are also
correcting or helping his language development
by giving him more information, more language to
At home, you can be a good
model for your child's speech and language
What you can do if you are a
The approach you use with
the Stammering child will not take extra
exercises but it can benefit all children. In
class, encourage the child to stop and think
before answering questions, rather than
"blurting it out".
Encourage the child to speak and answer
slowly and carefully. You can act as a model.
Correct speech errors by your good speech
example, rather than telling him that what he
said was wrong.
If you know someone who
are often embarrassed when talking to a
Stammerer because they don't know whether to try
and help by saying the word. The best thing to
do is ask the Stammerer. He will tell you what
will help the most.
If you are a Stammerer:
Regardless of your age, help IS
are a variety of treatments that DO work.
don't have to keep stammering.
find out about treatment
a local Speech Pathologist at your nearest
public hospital or Health