Stammering which is also known as stuttering is mainly a childhood fluency or speech disorder which causes major frequent and significant issues with speaking normal words and the flow of speech. People who stammer always know what they want to say, but face difficulty in actually saying it. In fact, they might even repeat a word, syllable, consonant or a vowel. Their flow of speech is interrupted and requires pauses during while talking because they might have reached a difficult pronouncing word or sound. This speech disorder has many stoppages and disruptions which intervene the flow and timing of the speech. Fore example, saying the word daddy can be difficult for some children and they might not say it at once,but pronounce is as da-da-daddy. This also involves silent blocking of the airflow of speech, due to which no sound comes out of the mouth. In conclusion, the flow of speech becomes forced and stressful.
Stammering is more common among young children and is considered as a normal part of speech learning. This fluency disorder might even be present in your child since birth only. Young children might also stammer when their speech and language abilities are not developed enough like the other kids. Therefore, do not come to a conclusion too quickly without a proper diagnosis. Most children even have an improved flow of speech after full development. Sometimes, stuttering can also be a chronic condition that stays in adulthood as well. This can interfere in social situations and have an impact on your confidence. Children and adults who stammer may recover from various treatments such as speech therapy and behavioral therapy. Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Karpuram Govathi Nikhila. Dysphagia - Speech specialist, Medanta - The Medicity, about the types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment.
Types of stammering
Stammering can be mild and not severe, but can be a serious communication disorder for some people. The type of stuttering also varies from person to person. Some might find that they stammer after short periods of time. On the other hand, a few people might speak every sentence with stammering. People who stutter also try to avoid particular words or situations, about which they know will make then stammer. This avoiding is called covert stammering. The patient might even avoid talking whenever possible. As per Dr. Karpuram, here are the three main types of stammering:
1. Developmental stammering
Developmental stammering basically occurs in teenage children. When the developmental stages start, they might stammer. This happens with children from 2-6 years of age. Most of the kids stammer at one particular age. Till 9 years, their language development might still be in process. The development time is different in every kid. However, even if the stammering prolongs more than 6 years of age, it needs to be taken into consideration. The children tend to carry forward the stammering even after the developmental period.
2. Neurogenic stammering
Neurogenic stammering is when there are signal abnormalities between the brain and nerves or muscles. A stroke or traumatic brain injury can cause this type of stammering in people. It can even get triggered due to brain tumors and drug usage.
3. Psychogenic stammering
The thinking and reasoning part of the brain is weak in such cases. Psychogenic stammering is also a common type of stammering. This can cause a child to stammer even by birth. However, this type of stuttering mostly results from emotional trauma and stress, and can be difficult to diagnose.
The signs of stammering might get worse when the person is excited, tensed, tired, feeling self conscious or under pressure. While speaking in front of a crowd or when talking on the phone are some situations that can make a person stutter. But, most of the people who stammer are able to speak without stuttering when they are talking to themselves and when they are singing. You need to be aware of all the early and advanced signs of stammering for further diagnosis and treatment. According to Dr. Karpuram, here are the main symptoms of stammering:
- Difficulty in starting a word or sentence
- Repeating a word
- Prolonging a word or sounds within a word
- Long silence or pauses while saying a word
- Lip tremors
- Tension and face and upper body movements to say a particular word
- Speaking words like 'um' and 'uh' in between to try speaking the next word
- Rapid eye blinking
- Head jerks
- Clenching fists
What causes stammering?
Stammering is a common speech disorder that can occur in childhood and persist into adulthood as well. As per a study, it was observed that about 1 in 20 children under school age may have a stammering problem at some point of time. According to Dr. Karpuram, the main causes behind stuttering in children can be psychological and physiological. The family and society pressure, anxiety and stressful environment can also lead to psychological stammering in children. Similarly, adults might also stutter due to a stressful work environment or pressure. The fast rate of speech mostly results in stammering in adults. Brain injury that has made a negative impact on the language area is also a cause of stammering. Stuttering even tends to run in some families. It appears that stammering can be a result of genetic factor as well.
For many children, stammering is just a normal part of learning to speak, and it gets better on its own. But, stuttering might persist for a longer time and requires treatment, before which there is a need to diagnose this disorder. Full diagnosis is done to know about the type of stammering for treatment. Stammering diagnosis is usually done by a speech-language pathologist, who runs several tests and training to check any voice, speech, and language disorders. The doctor might ask about your family history, medical history and also asks you to say a few words for speech rate testing. In the case of neurogenic stuttering, an imaging test might be done to check any brain injury.
Stammering might go away on its own for some people. However, if required, treatment is much more effective for children than for adults. Dr. Karpuram said, "Neurological speech therapy and medications are both combined to treat stammering." There are many different treatments for stammering. The treatment your doctor opts for totally depends on your age and the cause of stammering. Speech therapists, who provide treatment for stammering, can easily be found in nearby local health centres and hospitals.
Tips for parents to deal with child's stammering
If you have any queries about your kid's flow of speech, then it is best to talk to an expert about this. Early intervention can help in quick and effective treatment for any condition. If possible, visit a speech specialist who works regularly with stammering and can tell you about the latest speech therapies. If your child is having a problem in speaking, be his support and never demotivate him. Here are some tips for parents to deal with their child's stammering:
- Take out time to have a conversation with your child and give him time to talk
- Correct politely and praise him whenever he speaks without stammering
- Try to interact with your child in a slow and relaxed way, like there is no hurry
- Do not be judgemental, but give your child a detailed feedback about their speech in a friendly and supportive manner
- Listen to your children very carefully whenever they are trying to talk to you. Do not complete sentences for them as this leads to low confidence
- Help your children in gaining confidence so that they can talk properly without stammering
- Talk about stuttering openly but only if your child also wants to talk about it
So, these were the types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment for stammering by Dr. Karpuram Govathi Nikhila. If you or your child is experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms of stammering, then you should surely visit the doctor for further medical diagnosis and treatment. Usually, this communication condition is treated by a speech therapist only.
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