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Spotlight on Stuttering or Dysfluency
Did you know...
  • over three million Americans stutter
  • stuttering affects four times as many males as females
  • stuttering runs in families
  • about 25 percent of all children go through a stage of development in which they stutter, usually between 1 1/2 to 6 years of age. Of these, about 4% of children will continue to stutter.
  • Despite decades of research, there are no clear cut answers to the causes of stuttering. Research is, however, pointing to a neurological cause. Environmental factors can contribute to the severity of stuttering.
Dysfluency or stuttering is an interruption in the flow of speech. These interruptions may be repetitions of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, prolongations of sounds, or blocks or silent pauses often accompanied by tension in the vocal tract. Dysfluencies may also consist of additions of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases such as "uhm, well, you know." Some individuals also develop associated behaviors such as avoidances of certain sounds, words, people, or situations, or motor movements such as tapping, head movements, or rolling of the eyes.

Some suggestions:
  • Use a slower rate of speech when you talk to the child, somewhat like "Mr. Rogers" on TV.
  • Do not tell the child to "slow down," "start over," or "think about what you are going to say!"
  • Avoid filling in words or completing sentences for the child. Allow him time to get it out.
  • Focus on what the child is saying, not how he is saying it. Try not to appear impatient, angry or pained about his dysfluencies.
  • After a dysfluent comment, repeat back the content of what the child said. This will tell the child you are listening and help reduce his memory of the dysfluency.
  • Do not allow the child to interrupt or be interrupted in conversations.
  • Talk to friends/family who tease the child.
The Stuttering Foundation of America has many good resources regarding stuttering.