What is stuttering?

Stuttering occurs when the flow of speech is interrupted. Such interruptions may include:

  • the prolonging of speech sounds
  • frequent repetitions
  • difficulty in beginning to speak a new word
  • feeling tense upon trying to speak

People who stutter may have tremors of the lips and/or jaw. They may exhibit rapid eye blinks or have other movements in the face or upper body. These movements may be used by the person who stutters in an effort to attempt to begin speaking. Stuttering is also called stammering.

Who is affected by stuttering?

Although it can affect anyone, stuttering is most often found in young children (ages 2-6) who are still learning to talk. Most children stop stuttering as they age, and less than 1 percent of adults stutter. Boys are three times more likely to stutter than girls. It is estimated that 3 million Americans stutter.

What causes stuttering?

Stuttering may be caused by various factors and seems to run in families. However, no gene or genes for stuttering have been found.

How is stuttering treated?

While there is no cure for stuttering, stuttering therapy for young children can help to reduce stuttering.

Sometimes stuttering becomes less severe and fluency is improved when the person who stutters can engage in situations like speaking alone or singing.

What are some tips for dealing with a child who stutters?

  • Do not say things like, “Relax,” “Slow down,” or “Take a breath.” Such comments may make the child more nervous.
  • Ensure that the child knows there can be times when speaking precisely is not required.
  • Listen to what the child is saying, rather than how he or she is saying it.
  • Do not interrupt the child or ask him or her to start over.
  • When you are talking to the child, speak clearly and slowly.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/1/2013…#14162