A fluency or stuttering disorder is a speech disorder characterized by sound repetitions, sound prolongations, whole word repetitions, frequent interjections (um, uh, like, etc.), prolonged pauses, and other disruptions of natural speech patterns. These disfluencies may have secondary characteristics including excessive or forceful movements, eye blinking, and tensing the body.

Dysfluencies are common for people of all ages. Many adults often get “stuck on” words and frequently use interjections (uh, um, like, etc.) in everyday speech. In early childhood many children also experience “normal childhood disfluencies” as their speech and language skills are increasing. This period typically occurs in early childhood and does not persist beyond the age of 5 years old.

If the dysfluencies persist beyond 6 months to a year, it is less likely that the child will spontaneously “outgrow” the stutter.

If you have increased concerns about your child’s disfluencies, it is wise to seek a formal evaluation from a licensed Speech Language Pathologist.

A Speech Language Pathologist can evaluate and treat fluency disorders. The initial evaluation will consist of a variety of tasks to elicit speech in various manners: reading, naming objects, reciting the alphabet, etc. as well as questions regarding the client and/or family’s perception of themselves and their stuttering. Treatment for fluency disorders is appropriate for clients of all ages (childhood to adulthood) and may involve a variety of approaches including stuttering modification, fluency enhancement/shaping, reducing negative emotions/reactions, and education. Speech Language Pathologists often work with the client to carry-over these skills across settings (home, school, community, etc.), making sure the strategies are being used across areas of everyday life.

The goal of treatment is to reduce the client and/or family’s negative perceptions of the disorder, educate the client and/or family about the disorder and provide strategies for the client to increase fluency across various settings.

Jordan Gase, SLP