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Section 2 - What is Stammering?

What is Stammering/Stuttering?

In simple terms stammering is recognised as a tense, struggle to get words out. It is a highly variable and unpredictable condition. People who stammer can often experience periods of fluency sometimes but then may also experience significant struggle to speak at other times.

The typical features of stammering include repetition of sounds/words, prolonging initial sounds/words or sometimes silently blocking, getting stuck and not being able to produce any sound. Stammering is often accompanied by physical tension in the face and body and it can be difficult for the person to keep eye contact in the moment of stammering.

People who stammer will often avoid words or situations that they anticipate will increase their chances of stammering. Some people who stammer will avoid to such an extent that their stammer will be completely hidden (interiorised or covert stammering)

Stammering is like an iceberg with much going on 'underneath the surface' that many people would not realise. The hidden or covert part of the stammer includes avoidances, strong negative thoughts and feelings such as frustration, embarrassment and shame. It is these hidden features that play a part in maintaining the stammer and that are addressed in therapy.


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Patient, Day Surgery, Darlington Memorial Hospital