Stuttering is a disorder that affects the motor control and coordination of speech movements, resulting in talking that is not fluent.  The exact cause of stuttering is not yet known, however we do know that it tends to run in families. It is not caused by emotional or psychological trauma, but stutterers tend to stutter more when they are tired, upset, excited or nervous.

The features of stuttering can vary from person to person. It can happen gradually over time or suddenly, and it has a tendency to appear in cycles.

Some characteristics of stuttering include:

Sound or Part Word Repetitions
This is when a sound or part of a word is repeated 
  e.g. “M-m-m-mum”

Whole Word Repetitions
This is when a whole word is repeated 
  e.g. “Can-can-can you help me?”

Blocks
This is a silent period where the person seems to get “stuck” and is unable to get the word out

Prolongations
This is when a sound is stretched out
  e.g. “Wwwwwwat is it?”

Stuttering often starts when a child is very young, but it can continue into adulthood. Treatment is most successful when started as early as possible, but it never too late to begin. The most compelling evidence for adult treatment is for speech restructuring, supplemented by video self-modelling. Speech restructuring refers to a broad category of treatments designed to control stuttering with a novel speech pattern. Variants of the treatment are known as prolonged speech, smooth speech, easy speech, and fluency shaping.

Treatment for adults is different to the treatment used for children. As adults may have been stuttering for longer, treatment has to change the motor pattern that a person has been using over time. Often this does not feel natural at first; however with practice it can significantly reduce stuttering.

This information was provided by Speech Pathology Australia. for more information, go to www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au