Individuals with fluency disorders have difficulties with the flow and rhythm of speech. It is commonly known as a stutter.
This occurs when an individual experiences syllable, word, or phrase repetitions (“I wah, wah, want to go.”), prolongations (“I wwwwant to go.”) and/or blocking (“I——want to go.”). Often, individuals who stutter demonstrate additional behaviors such as poor eye contact and avoidance of difficult words. They may also present with secondary behaviors such as eye blinking or fist clenching. Stuttering may look different from one individual to another and can range from a single word repetition (“My-my dad went to the store”) to an extended block (i.e. can’t get the word out).
Seeking therapy may increase a speaker’s confidence, as well as reduce the likelihood of social withdrawal or avoidance of certain communication situations (e.g. speaking to teachers, answering questions in class, oral presentations).
Treatment approaches are dependent on the individual’s age and severity. Methods include programs such as Lidcombe Program for Early Intervention for Stuttering, The Essential Pause and other programs aimed at reducing the impact of the stutter as well as strategies to increase self-confidence across speaking situations.