What is Stammering / Stuttering?
Stammering is a struggle to get words out. Typical features
of stammering include repetition of sounds / words, prolonging
initial sounds / words or not being able to produce any sound.
Stammering is often accompanied by physical tension in the face and
Stammering is a variable and unpredictable condition. People who
stammer can often experience periods of fluent speech but may
also struggle to speak at other times.
People who stammer may avoid words or situations they feel
will increase their likelihood of stammering. In some people who
stammer, they may avoid things to such an extent that their stammer
will be completely hidden. This is known as "interiorised" or
Stammering is often compared to an iceberg: there is a lot going
on underneath the surface which others do not see. The visible part
of the stammer includes repetition of sounds/words, pronologing
initial sounds, and being unable to produce sounds. Under the
surface part of the stammer includes avoidance, negative
thoughts, and feelings such as frustration, embarrassment and
shame. These hidden features have a role in maintaining
the stammer. Both visible and hidden features are addressed in
What causes stammering?
Stammering is not caused by one single factor. For each person,
there are a number of factors which:
In young people and adults, there are 5 main areas which may
contribute to stammering. These are:
In children, young people and adults, there are also some
factors which may contribute to the occurrence of stammering. These
Linguistic factors - stammering is more common at the beginning
of sentences, and in sentences with long and complex
Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. (2018).
Introduction to dysfluency. Retrieved from
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