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Stammering and Its Effects on an Individual's Life

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Stammering and Its Effects on an Individual's Life

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Also called childhood-onset fluency disorder, stammering is a disorder of speech. Read the article to learn about stammering and its effect on an individual.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At April 24, 2017
Reviewed AtMay 3, 2024

What Is Stammering?

Stammering or stuttering causes a multidimensional effect on an individual's personality. It affects all stages of life, such as childhood, adolescence, and the adult phase of a person. It not only affects the individual but in the long run, it affects the family also. The impacts of stammering are beyond what one sees.

What Are the Types of Stammering?

  • Developmental Stammering: It occurs during the early childhood phase, during which language and speech skills develop.

  • Late-Onset Stammering: In this type, although stammering was not present in early life, children and adults may develop stuttering because of stroke, neurological disorders, head injury, drugs, or mental trauma.

How Is Stammering Manifested?

The following are the symptoms of stammering:

  • Syllables, sounds, or words are repeated.

  • Starting to say words, sentences, or phrases becomes difficult.

  • Talking a word requires a lot of effort, which is exhibited by tension, movement of the face, and tightening of the facial muscles.

  • Silence or pauses between words or sentences.

  • The thought of talking creates anxiety.

  • A syllable or sound takes a prolonged time to pronounce.

  • Ineffective communication.

What Signs Are Associated With Stammering?

In addition to the difficulties in speech, the following signs are seen with stammering:

  • Jaw or lip tremors.

  • Clenching fists.

  • Rapid blinking of the eyes.

  • Facial tics.

  • Jerking of the head.

What Is the Cause of Stammering?

The cause of stammering depends on the type. Although the exact cause of stammering is still under research, it has been attributed that several factors may contribute to stuttering.

The following are the causes of stammering:

  • Developmental Stuttering:

  1. Speech Motor Control Abnormality - An incoordination between the sensory, timing, and motor functions may develop due to an abnormality in the speech motor control center of the brain.

  2. Hereditary - It can also occur due to a genetic abnormality. A family history of stammering may make the individual more susceptible to developing this condition.

  • Late-Onset Stuttering: Late-onset or acquired stammering can be due to psychogenic or neurogenic causes.

  1. Psychogenic Stuttering - In the case of psychogenic stuttering, emotional trauma is the cause of stammering. However, emotional stress can make them dysfluent in a few, thus creating stuttered speech.

  2. Neurogenic Stuttering - Neurogenic stuttering occurs due to neurological disorders or disruptions:

  • Brain injury due to trauma.

  • Stroke.

  • Disorders of the brain.

What Increases the Risk of Developing Stuttering?

The following factors may make an individual more prone to the development of stammering:

  • Family history.

  • Stress is caused by family or high expectations from parents.

  • Children who have had delays in the general development of speech.

How Is Stammering Diagnosed?

Stammer is usually diagnosed at the age of two to five years. This is diagnosed when the communication impairment becomes very obvious. Most of the stammers do not require any treatment. During the diagnosis, the doctor gets help from a speech and language pathologist. A detailed assessment will be made regarding the symptoms and the onset of stammer to rule out the presence of any other condition.

How Is Stammering Speech Treated?

The treatment for stammering is not aimed at eliminating it on the whole. Instead, it helps in teaching the following skills:

  • Actively engaging in work, school, and other social activities.

  • Enhances fluency of speech.

  • Enables effective communication.

Treatment varies from one individual to another because every person has different needs. A multifactorial approach is needed to treat stammering, which a speech-language pathologist decides.

The following are a few treatment approaches that are effective in treating stammering:

  • Electronic Devices: Electronic devices help improve fluency by mimicking speech. The speech is slowed down with the help of delayed auditory feedback. These electronic devices can be worn throughout the day and are recommended by a speech-language pathologist, depending on each patient's condition.

  • Speech Therapy: It helps identify the areas where the individual stutters, enabling them to slow down their speech. Although it is a slow process, it can give a more natural way of speaking with time.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive behavior therapy detects the thought process that worsens stuttering. As a result, it is altered to treat stammering. This type of psychotherapy is used in managing conditions related to stuttering, like anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem.

What Should I Do if My Child Has a Stammering Speech?

At the early stages of life, when the child experiences stammering, the family must understand the child's condition. The parents need to tell the teacher the problem of children related to stuttering. So that in school, the teacher can check the child's activities and help them out in the case of bullying or teasing.

The parents should not react with anger. Anger will not help the child to overcome stuttering. These children often experience a wide range of emotions, such as anxiety, anger, and fear. Parents usually come across this emotional outburst. They also complain of the child being depressive or violent. The child will not be able to express their emotions. The effects of stuttering during speech cause the child great difficulty expressing their inner feelings, causing frustration that may come out in the form of anger. In these cases, therapeutic intervention is required.

Once it is confirmed that the stuttering is not improving with age and the child is likely to suffer ill effects, then the family must consult a speech therapist. Studies have proved that people who consult therapists have improved stammering and a better quality of life.

A better quality of life for people with stuttering gives them better emotional balance and self-confidence.

The following can help the child in coping stammering:

  • Attentively listen to the child.

  • Do not finish the sentence; instead, wait for the child to complete the word or sentence.

  • It would help if one spoke slowly so their child would do the same.

  • When the child speaks clearly, appreciate it even for the slightest things.

What Is the Difference Between Stammering and Stuttering?

Stuttering also refers to the same signs and symptoms of stammer, and there is no real difference between these two. These two words are being used in different regions.

What Are the Complications of Stammering?

The following are the complications associated with stammering:

  • Difficulty in communication.

  • Speaking causes anxiety.

  • Reduced self-esteem.

  • Avoids speaking in needed situations.

  • Facing bullying or teasing by others.


Stammering is a speech disorder that can bring mental trauma to the child and their family. Addressing the disorder at the earliest can help resolve the associated issues. As a parent, encouraging and standing by the child can provide emotional support that can help the child overcome it. It is advisable to reach out to a speech-language pathologist when the child experiences any signs of stammering.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Effects of Stuttering on Social Life?

Stuttering can have various effects on the social life of the affected person. For example, stuttering can impact individual employment opportunities, self-image, relationships with others, perception by others, and intimate relationships. Moreover, researchers have shown that people who stutter have a higher risk of poor emotional functioning and are viewed as less desirable romantic partners.


Does Stuttering Affect Mental Health?

Stuttering can have an adverse effect on mental health, as stuttering itself is an emotional or psychological disorder. One of the common signs in people who stutter is stress and anxiety, which can, in turn, lead to broader issues. It has also been reported that people who stutter show more symptoms of depression as compared to other individuals.


What Is the Cause of Stammering?

Stammering can be caused by a combination of various factors, such as;
- Abnormalities in speech motor control.
- Genetics (stuttering has a familial tendency and can be passed down from parents to children).
- Stroke.
- Brain disorders.
- Traumatic injury to the brain.
- Emotional trauma.


Is Stuttering Considered a Disability?

In many countries, stuttering is considered a disability, but it can negatively impact people dealing with it. Stammering is a speech disability that can vary in severity among different individuals. Many people tend to grow out of this condition as their brain develops with age.


Can Stammering Cause Depression?

Stuttering negatively impacts the quality of life, social and emotional functioning, and mental health. Because of this, depression can be commonly seen in people who stutter. In addition, the symptoms of depression are more prominent in females as compared to males.


How Can Stuttering Be Managed?

Stuttering can be treated with a combination of different therapies depending on the severity of the condition. The treatment may not eliminate stuttering but can;
- Improve speech fluency.
- Help effective communication.
- Help participate fully in school, work, and social activities.
The therapies that help in treating stammering include;
- Speech therapy (training for people with speech disorders to speak more clearly).
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (a talking therapy that helps patients with depression or anxiety by changing their way of thinking and behavior).
- Parent-child interaction.


Can Stammering Be Cured in Adults?

There is no known cure for stuttering like any other speech disorder. But the symptoms can be reduced by various therapies. In most adults, stuttering usually disappears with time, though sometimes it can be a life-long condition. Individuals with unsuccessful conventional therapies can seek help from a speech-language therapist to overcome the stuttering problem.


What Things to Remember While Talking With Someone Who Stutters?

People should remember some things while speaking to someone who stammers, such as;
- Avoid finishing their sentences if someone stammers or struggles to complete them.
- Have patience and give them time to finish without interrupting them.
- Do not ask them to speak fast or slow.
- Show interest in what they are trying to say.
- Be calm with young children who stammer and speak slowly and help them complete their sentences.


What Are the Ways to Accept Stammering?

Stammering is a social stigma that can significantly impact the social life of an affected person. A person should find a way to cope with this problem and try to regain confidence. The patient can also join various support groups, meet new people, and explore more options to deal with it. Also, they can reach out to a speech therapist to combat this problem.


At What Age Does Stammer Develop?

A stammer can develop at any age but is most commonly seen in children who are still learning to speak. It is more commonly seen in boys as compared to girls. It usually occurs between the ages of two to five years.
Dr. Abhilipsa Nanda
Dr. Abhilipsa Nanda



speech therapy
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