International Stuttering Awareness Day is October 22!
Fluency is the aspect of speech production that refers to continuity, smoothness, rate, and effort.
Stuttering, the most common fluency disorder, is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by repetitions (sounds, syllables, words, phrases), sound prolongations, blocks, interjections, and revisions, which may affect the rate and rhythm of speech. These disfluencies may be accompanied by physical tension, negative reactions, secondary behaviors, and avoidance of sounds, words, or speaking situations.
Cluttering, another fluency disorder, is characterized by a perceived rapid and/or irregular speech rate, which results in breakdowns in speech clarity and/or fluency.
Some examples of stuttering include:
- “W- W- W- Where are you going?” (Part-word repetition: The person is having difficulty moving from the “w” in “where” to the remaining sounds in the word. On the fourth attempt, he successfully completes the word.)
- “SSSS ave me a seat.” (Sound prolongation: The person is having difficulty moving from the “s” in “save” to the remaining sounds in the word. He continues to say the “s” sound until he is able to complete the word.)
- “I’ll meet you – um um you know like – around six o’clock.” (A series of interjections: The person expects to have difficulty smoothly joining the word “you” with the word “around.” In response to the anticipated difficulty, he produces several interjections until he is able to say the word “around” smoothly.)
When talking with people who stutter, the best thing to do is give them the time they need to say what they want to say. Try not to finish sentences or fill in words for them. Doing so only increases the person’s sense of time pressure. Also, suggestions like “slow down,” “relax,” or “take a deep breath” can make the person feel even more uncomfortable because these comments suggest that stuttering should be simple to overcome, but it’s not!
Information from an evaluation done by an SLP is then used to develop a specific treatment program, one that is designed to:
- help the individual speak more fluently,
- communicate more effectively, and
- participate more fully in life activities.