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?”

An effective therapy program for children is called the Lidcombe Program. This program aims to help reduce stuttering and improve motor coordination through positive behavioural cues. Parental involvement and training are key components as the program needs to implemented by parents at home.  Early intervention is essential for the success of the program.

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