The diagnosis of stuttering is diagnosed clinically and there are no tests which can provide an appropriate diagnosis of the disease. The healthcare professional or a speech-language pathologist will take a detailed history of your child's speech
Stuttering is diagnosed clinically and there is no specific test that can confirm the diagnosis. The healthcare professional or a speech-language pathologist will take a detailed history of your child's speech irregularities and assess his or her risk factors for stuttering to diagnose the disorder.
While diagnosing stuttering, the healthcare professional will also assess the following:
- Child's development: This includes noting the age at which the major developmental milestones were reached and if overall physical, social and thinking (cognitive) skills the child has are appropriate for the child's age or not.
- Hearing tests: Hearing problems can affect a child’s language and communication. If the child has problem with hearing, he or she may have difficulty in pronouncing words properly and using the language effectively.
- Speech and language tests: The tests are useful for speech-language pathologist to identify and assess the severity of irregular speech patterns. The speech is assessed while the child reads from a sample document or converses with someone. A videotape of the child talking in different settings may be made to identify and assess the severity of irregular speech patterns.
Apart from the tests for stuttering, the doctor will do physical exam to find out whether some other condition is causing or occurring along with stuttering. The evaluation can help the doctor to determine if the speech problem is a type of normal disfluency, which usually resolves on its own or the kind of stuttering that should be treated. Most children with stuttering are referred to a speech-language pathologist for detailed assessment of his or her speech.
If your child has speech problems that are not normal for his or her age, it may be diagnosed as developmental stuttering. Some indicators of developmental stuttering include:
- Presence of three or more speech-related problems (such as trouble starting a word, phrase or sentence, repeating parts of words, sounds or syllables, prolonging parts of a word or visibly attempting to speak i.e. lips may be together or the mouth may be open, but no words or sounds are produced for several seconds).
- Avoiding or doing word substitutions (circumlocution) to avoid trying to say certain words or sounds. This may include pauses or interjections such as "uh" and "um."
- Appearing tense and uncomfortable when speaking and having physical symptoms such as grimacing, eye-blinking, head-nodding and other nervous mannerisms.
Stuttering in adulthood
If stuttering starts in an adult, consulting a health professional is essential. It can be due to some injury in the brain such as an accident, stroke or some other disorder of the brain such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis etc. If there is a possibility that it is caused due to brain trauma or disease, you may be referred to a neurologist. If stuttering causes emotional trauma or other mental health problems (such as anxiety) that may be affecting your speech, you may be referred to a psychiatrist for evaluation.
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