CHENNAI : Uttering the juggling syllables that make no sense and taking long unintentional pauses which lead to watchful stares — a person with the condition of stuttering has to go through several such moments of discomfort on a daily basis. Even though this common speech problem has no underlying cause for its origin, Lakshmipriya Sampath, audiologist and speech therapist, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai, explains that the condition can aggravate due to many factors like stress and anxiety.
She says, “Stuttering is considered as a fluency disorder. There are different dimensions based on which speech is said to be fluent. These include punctuation, pronouncing the words for a meaningful language, stress given to the words while speaking, variation of tone, pitch and volume. Any disruptions in these can result in an inability to communicate and thus stammering or stuttering.” Here is an expert analysis of the condition, the symptoms, the types in adults and children, and treatment.
The symptoms can be observed through the core and secondary behaviours in stuttering.
Repetition: People repeat sounds, syllables and the whole word. For example, if the child wants to say water, they might stammer and keep repeating the sound ‘wa’.
Prolongation: Along with repetition, prolongation can also occur, for example, they will stress on the initial syllable.
Interjection: There will be a block of speech. After speaking a few words, they will pause and take some time to start again.
Rapid blinks, tremors of lips, facial tics, hand movements, head jerks, clenching fists.
Stuttering in children
In children, stuttering behaviours can be observed in the developmental stage, that is from 18 months of age.
If the stuttering is experienced for a shorter period of time and the severity is very less then, it is normal non-fluency.
If the child continues to have that stuttering-like behaviour for a longer period of time along with the emotional reactions like anxiety and frustration, then it will lead to stuttering.
Reasons for stuttering in children
Language difficulty, if the child has not yet developed the full language skills.
High expectations and negative reactions of parents. Children might get a sense of frustration and failure when they try to speak something.
A family history of the condition.
Stuttering in adults
Stuttering in children is called developmental stuttering while in adults, it is called acquired stuttering. The different types of stuttering in adults include
Neurogenic stuttering: Speech problems after any head injury or stroke kind of problems.
There is a high possibility of getting stuttering after taking certain medications like psychotic drugs.
Psychogenic stuttering: Due to psychological issues like stress.
Contact a speech-language pathologist if the child doesn’t speak at least one word by the age of one.
In the case of children, we also have to create an environment where the child feels relaxed and confident about talking. There should not be any negative reactions for the child’s attempt to speak.
Encourage the child to talk more about easy topics that are interesting to them
Speech therapy and counselling sessions, both individual and one to one interactions, can provide the cure for adults. It can also increase their confidence and self-esteem.
Breathing exercises are also recommended for adults to fight the anxiety and nervousness which comes along with the condition.