Questions of the week
The following are real questions about stuttering. All the questions were sent over five years ago and the identifying information has been changed/removed. Besides learning about how to find valid information about stuttering, discussion might include how to talk with and about other professionals, how to figure out what question is really being asked, how to word responses, ethical issues, etc.
Portrayal of stuttering in the media
I am a longtime writer and journalist, presently working as a publicist. My latest personal writing project is a screenplay in which one of the characters is a young man of about 19 or 20 years who stutters. In an effort to make my character as authentic as possible, I am searching for answers to questions about the affliction and how people deal with it. Some questions follow which I think are important to better representing my character. First, a few words about who I envision my character to be. If any of
this seems unlikely or patently incorrect please let me know.
My character is a young college sophomore with a moderate to severe
stuttering problem. He has been in therapy since his problem was first
diagnosed early in life and can often speak fluently if imperfectly.
But there are times, especially when he gets tense or emotional, that
his stuttering becomes severe to the point of not allowing him to get
even a single word out. He carries a pad of paper on which to write
his communications in those especially tough times. He comes from a
loving family, a father and mother devoted to helping in every way. He
has a brother who is three years older who has always been his champion
and defender against teasing and the like. The brothers are very
close. The older brother often finishes his younger brother's
sentences -- almost always correctly -- to keep their conversations
moving when the younger boy has trouble. Both boys know that the older
brother shouldn't do that, but they've been doing it all their lives.
It seems a natural way for them to communicate and the younger boy is
relieved that there is someone with whom he doesn't have to struggle to
communicate. The younger boy has a burning need to express himself that
has been stymied by his stuttering. He is changing his major to dance
to that end. Though he sometimes wishes he could become invisible
while trying to speak, he delights in the attention of others when he
dances. How am I doing? Does any of this seem off the mark? A question or two:
- What letters or sounds most often trouble those who stutter?
What kinds of drills might one do at home to work on controling
Does one who stutters ever get past the need for therapy? Do some
people remain in therapy all their lives?
Any other suggestions for making this character an accurate depiction
of one who stutters?
Stuttering and IDEA
I live in the USA and have a 10 year old who stutters. JT started
stuttering at about age 4. I have tried to get speech services via the
school system (my health insurance does not pay for speech unless it is
related to a head injury). Two times I was denied. First was I was
told JT would outgrow it. JT didn't. Second time the school system
told me that JT still might outgrow it but when I rejected this they
still would not provide speech therapy based on the fact that the
stuttering it is not effecting educational progress (JT gets good
grades). Last year's teacher and recently this year's teacher spoke to
me about their concern regarding JT's stuttering and one teacher wrote a
letter to request the Special Ed Dept to address this issue. The
school evaluated JT and tomorrow I go for the meeting. I do believe
that they will offer services this time but I am concerned. Is it
important that the one giving speech therapy specializes in stuttering?
Do all speech therapist have knowledge regarding stuttering. What
would be the appropriate amount of time for services - once a week 1/2
hour? Can you give me any advice? Please do not tell me not to worry
that the school will know what is best and will do it. I understand how the system REALLY works. I need to be educated regarding how to help and the help JT is to recieve from others to address the stuttering. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Stuttering and specific medication
RL is 40 years old, had a nervous breakdown 2 years ago and has been on numerous antidepressents. Now on paxil, retalin, and nuerontin. RL has never stuttering before but within the last two weeks has started stuttering every now and then, and each day it gets worse. I asked RL's psychiatrist if any of the meds that he has RL on could cause this and he doesn't know. I don't know what causes people to stutter and I was wondering if you know what could have caused this.
Stuttering in 2 1/2 year old girl
My daughter is 2 1/2 and my son who is almost one. The reason why I am writing, is due to my daughters stuttering. She has always talked well and started speaking at an early age Having a conversation with her is no problem. But, within in the past year, she has started to stutter.
Some days are worse than others. Or it will go away for a week or so
and return full force. It goes to the point were her eyes start
rolling in the back of her head, or for example when she is trying to
tell me her brother has done something. She will get stuck
on the first letter of his name for sometimes 5- 10 seconds and then she will just stop and call him her brother. It's like she just thinks, forget it.
Stuttering in 8 year old girl
Anyway, when she turned 2 years old. I thought I should have her seen
by the pediatrician. And her response was, don't worry about it. She
will grow out of it, plus no one will see her until she is in at least
1st grade. But, the problem I have is she didn't even try to speak to
my daughter to understand what I was trying to say. Now, it has been several months since I have taken her to the doctor and the bigger the
vocabulary, the more she stutters. And it isn't on the big words she
stutters, it is the normal everyday words.
I would like to help my daughter with her speech now if I can while she is still young and doesn't go to school. I can
just imagine the stress of peers making fun of one who has this
problem. And if I can help it I would like to get help and see if we
can help her before she has to go through that. My personal opinion is
that she isn't too young to help She is very capable of listening
and understanding what people are trying to tell her, and I can tell
that she gets frustrated every now and then and it breaks my heart.
Please let me know if you have any helpful advice.
About two months ago my 8 year old daughter began stuttering fairly
severely. We didn't really notice it at first, and it probably happened
gradually over a period of a month or two. Her classroom teacher noticed
it and sent her to a speech therapist that the schools contracts with.
She told us to keep a journal about her stuttering about a month ago, but
we have not heard back from her and no therapy has been given.
Stuttering in Junior High School student
For a few weeks we just made a point of listening carefully and patiently
to her and not interrupting, while hoping and assuming that it would soon
go away by itself. But this doesn't seem to be happening, so I've started
researching the subject by contacting the two stuttering foundations and
combing the Web. We're now on a waiting list for therapy.
I remember stuttering mildly when I was in high school for a year or two,
and my wife's sister stuttered somewhat more when she was growing up.
There were no unusual changes or stresses in my daughter's life during
the time when she started stuttering, except perhaps that her sister just
turned two and has become extremely active and verbal (and competitive
for parents' attention).
I'd welcome any input about our situation, but my main question is this:
how unusual is it for a child to "suddenly" start stuttering at this age?
Are there any statistics about how children like this respond to therapy,
and the likelihood of recovery? So far as I can tell she has not yet been
teased about her stuttering, and her classroom teacher is supportive and
very willing to read about the subject. Her friends are sticking with her
I 've been working with a junior high student with a fluency disorder for one
year. From what I've observed, the stuttering is mostly small blocks.
No secondary characteristics. He's been in therapy since first grade.
He has been very resistant to therapy ever since I met him. He's tired
of therapy and doesn't think he needs it. At this time, he seems to
have his speech under control except during physical education and
other sporting events. During therapy, he may have 0-3 short blocks in
a 20 minute session. When asked about his fluency, he reports that he
never stutters and he doesn't have a problem. His Phy. Ed. teacher
reports differently. My questions are: do I continue therapy with
someone very resistant? Will I get anything accomplished? Are there
any relaxing techniques he can do on his own during PE class? Parents
are are boarderline as to how they feel about continuing therapy. His
IEP is in a few weeks.
Possible covert stutterer in middle school
I am serving a middle and was doing a follow-up on a student I was to simply monitor. Teachers all said she is fine, but she's not. Stuttering is not my strength, so I'm not even clear on all the terminology. I'll describe what she is doing, in hopes you can give me search terms, etc. that will help me find ideas to help her.
She can converse easily at a casual level, without any dysfluency.
She avoids reading in class. When I asked her to read a short passage,
she sat and looked at the material, then looked at me and said,"I
can't." She does not have a reading difficulty. I asked her then to
read silently, then just tell me what it was about. Same thing. I
don't observe any tension at all. I do see some lip movement, not
tense, when reading silently. I'm sure she has manged to find ways
around class presentations, and is fine conversationally and socially,
so the problem is masked. She could not initiate with air flow, easy
speech or any of that kind of thing. I'm trying to find school
appropriate references to this variation of stuttering, and treatment
directions. She wants to work on it.
She is bilingual and does the same thing in her first language. As most children from her cultural background, she is typiccally very quiet in school, so it has not seemed unusual for her to remain quiet in class. Her English
is very good.
What is going on?
Two of my children are extremely bright students and have
great imaginations. They have always been treated as precocious and
clever, however as they are now 11 and 7 and are driving their teachers
nuts! The 7 year old especially hums and makes mouth noises
constantly even when he is interested in a movie or conversation he's
having. We've tried challenging them to count before speaking to delay
it and also to allow 5 other students to answer teacher's questions
before they answer again, etc. We have grounded and punished and
disciplined every which way. Nothing works to stop their little mouths
from talking or emitting noise. Is there a clinically diagnosed disorder that fits this description?
Stuttering in Down Syndrome
I am the father of a 10 year old with Down Syndrome. Over the course of the last couple of years FM has developed issues with fluency. FM's issues seem to be getting worse as the complexity of speech patterns increases. FM has been getting speech therapy for years and the speech therapist is aware of, and has been trying to help with, the fluency. Still, FM seems to be having more, not less, difficulty. I would be very grateful for any information regarding how to help my child with speech.
Question from a 10 year old boy
I am a 10 year old boy. My dad stutters. I have a
type of stuttering too. I don't really repeat sounds that often but I
get stuck in the middle of my words. My speech teacher at school calls this "pausing". I also speak very softly. What should I do? I want people to hear what I have to say but I don't want to "pause" either. Sometimes i get really embarassed that I can't say a word. I can hear it in my head but I can not say the word! Is that normal? Sometimes I get mad and do mean things. I just get so frustrated! Is this normal?
From a 7 year old
I'm 7 years old. I don't have any friends. They call me
dummy because I talk funny. Parents always tell my mom that they
don't understand me when I talk. Kids talk to my sister and no one talks
Where should we turn?
My husband, mid 40's and successful, has a problem with fluent speech. He was a stutterer as a child (first grade) and had speech therapy through the school. He seemed to overcome it, but since I've known him (15 years) has demonstrated halting speech, anxiety and flushing when having even casual
conversations, malapropisms, and poor voice quality. He also has adult ADD (non-hyper type). What sort of a person should we go to for diagnosis?
We believe this may be holding him back in the business world, and
Stuttering and schizophrenia?
Is there any connection between stuttering and schizophrenia? or
stuttering and and personality disorders? I ask because I stutter
and have been diagnosed with Schitzo-Typal Personality disorder.
Having trouble with "spoonerisms."
I find that I am having a problem that is increasing daily: When I speak, I often reverse my words ("spoonerisms")--I'll say "Hoobert Herver" instead of "Herbert Hoover." This happens more often when I'm tired or stressed, but even at other times, it's been happening. Is this something I should be worried about? If so, do you have any recommendations as to what may be going on?
Could my stuttering indicate a neurological problem?
I've never had a problem with stuttering, but have recently found myself slightly stuttering (repetition of first syllable of random words) at different times. I haven't noticed any pattern at all to it. And perhaps it is normal, but it does concern me. I've always been a very articulate person and not had any problem verbalizing thoughts at all. I guess my main concern is that this could indicate a neurological problem. Is there any research about adult-onset stuttering indicating possible neurological problems?
Self medicating and stuttering
i am a fifty four year old male looking for help with my speech problem, i have stuttering all of my life. i am taking valerian root at bed time any other ideas that may help.
Stuttering in the gay community
I'm not sure if you can answer this for me. I'm gay and
a stutter, has there been any studies done about this, how many gay
stutters are there in the stuttering community.
Stuttering and potential emotional problems
My brother is an adult and has been a serious
stutterer since he was three. Stuttering has ruined his life. Last
night he asked to be admitted to the psych ward at the local hospital.
He was feeling suicidal and at the end of his rope. When asked why
he thought he was feeling so desperately depressed the only thing he
would say was "it's my stuttering". I personally have never seen or
heard a person with a worse stuttering than him. My parents sent
him to an intensive therapy course one summer when he was a teenager. He came back speaking slightly better but it didn't last. You can imagine his high school years. He
has never had a date. He went away to college and had to return
home after less than a semester. I thought I heard of a new drug for
stuttering. I don't know if it is being tested or if it has been
approved by the FDA. Have you heard anything about it? Is there
any help out there? Another issue. Jobs. He has applied for
countless jobs and been turned down over and over because of his
stuttering. He is well educated and very bright. Do you know if stutterers can be declared
disabled? He cannot find a job to support himself and he does not
want to live at home with Mom and Dad forever.
Relationship of stuttering to compulsive disorders?
Hi! I am a stutter, and have been stuttering since the fourth grade.
I was wondering if you have ever thought about compulsive disorder ever being related to stuttering. Not a serious case of it of course, but I have noticed that I do little things many times during the day. Like while rolling my hair, I freak out about the curlers because I don't want to "hurt" the small curler by putting the larger one in first. hehe I know it sounds totally crazy. Then if I touch something with my left hand, I feel sorry for the right hand, and then go crazy because I can't solve the problem of unfairness. hehe I have talked to some stutters, and they say they have never thought about it before, but once they did, they realized that they do little things like that all the time.
I am a person who stutters and have been since I was 9 years
old. I am soon graduating from highschool and have still have
found no way to cure my stuttering. I am not a bad stutterer and
hide it pretty well. That's my problem I am to worried about hiding
something that I shouldn't be worried about. Well I don't mean
to blab on, but I am doing a service for a project at my school
and I was wondering if you could some how email some self help
methods to help yourself overcome one's stuttering problem, which
I will be sharing with other stutters. If not no big deal.
Stuttering and Tourette Syndrome
I am trying not to panic, having just discovered last night via a TV
show that my granddaughter may have inherited a gene for Tourette's
syndrome. This child's grandfather has the most severe case of
stuttering I have ever seen (he is about 65 years old). We always
thought of it as "just stuttering" until last night, when a man
appeared on TV who talked in exactly the same way, with strange, loud
clicks preceding the attempts to speak, which involve endless
stuttering, painful to watch. It turned out that this young man was
not just stuttering but has Tourette's, which was given as the reason
for his speech problems.
It was also mentioned that this is genetic. I pretty much froze in my
tracks. And, this morning, coincidentally, I happened to catch the
closing words of another TV show--about Tourette's!--and heard it
stated that the gene can't be detected and that it may start as late as
I don't know what to think--or whether to tell my daughter, who would, I
think, decide not to have more children if this is a real threat. If I
tell her what I suspect, she will spend the rest of her baby's childhood
and early adulthood living in fear of this and watching constantly for
signs of this condition beginning. I have not even told my husband and
do not plan to, as this baby is the darling of his heart and he would
never have another easy moment. I think I may have to live with this
fear all alone rather than reveal it to anyone at all--but what if my
daughter decides to have more children--how can I tell her this--and
how can I not tell her?
I hope you might be able to steer me to some source of
information--I have not been able to concentrate on it long enough to search carefully and find out. I apologize for pouring this out to you--I am just so shocked and so scared.
I feel like it's my fault
I was diagnosed as a stutterer at the age of 7. My parents were told
that I might out grow stuttering because most girls do. I am here to
say that you don't outgrow or become cured. You learn to manage
your speech. I am one of the lucky ones that can control their speech.
I went to speech class while I was in elementary school. I listened to
other kids call me stupid, and I even felt this my self. Once I gained
control over my speech I thought my nightmare was over. I didn't
think about stuttering as much once I entered jr. high even though I
prayed each night I would stay in control. We moved around a lot
when I was growing up so it was always hard & I would cry each
night that I had a slip up & pray that it did not happen again. By the
time I entered high school we had moved again & I just hoped &
prayed that this disruption in my life would not affect my speech. I
sailed through high school with only stuttering when I became over
tired. I really thought by the time I graduated that I didn't have to
even think about my speech because I had retaught my self how to
be in control. I married with no problems so what could ever
happened to make me think about this again? In 1983 I gave birth to a precious little boy. I never dreamed that such a sweet thing would
turn into guilt. My son is a stutterer which I was told he inherited
from me. The only thing is that my son has never gained control
over his speech. He is classified as a severe stutterer & still sees a
therapist through his high school twice a week. I'm not even sure
they know what to do with him any more. Each day is a struggle. He
will not answer the phone without looking at the caller ID box first,
he begs his teachers not to make him do oral presentations. If that is
not enough to make a mother feel guilty I do not know what is. His
younger sister has never shown any signs of a
speech problem. She's a good student & a very caring young woman.
She already knows that she wants to be a speech pathologist. As for
my son he says "What will I ever be able to do?" "Who will really
want to hire me when I can't even talk?" He came home yesterday &
asked if I smoked or drank while I was pregnant with him, which I
did not. When I asked him why he wanted to know he said someone
told him that his speech problems could have been a result of my
smoking or drinking during pregnancy. I'm not sure who gave him
this information but was glad that I could put his mind at rest. He is
constantly looking for answers to why this happens. What is a
mother supposed to say to her child? I have spent many nights in
tears because I can't help him. Any suggestions would greatly be
Assessment of stuttering in second language learned
I have a kindergarten student who I am in the middle of assessing. He repeats whole words, phrases and occasionally parts of words. He also has some secondary characteristic (his tongue protrudes out of his mouth and then makes a humming sound). He speaks both English and Russian ( he has the same issues when speaking Russian and English). His parents reported that he spoke at a early age and started to "stutter" at age two. It started out as syllable and part word repetitions and changed to whole word and phrase repetitions along with the "humming". It has been a concern of theirs on and off for years. I am not sure how to handle this one.. Is he disfluent because he is searching for words? Is it language based.. Do I treat it differently then other fluency assessments? Do you have an ideas or resources that I could use?
Stuttering and required public speaking class
We have a student on our university campus who is a severe stutterer. She has a report from an SLP saying that she has a speech disability. Some of the speech path faculty think she should take the public speaking class because she as well as the other students in the class will learn a great deal and she may do better than she thought she could. Also, she would learn things other than standing up in front of a group: she would learn how to organize her thoughts, etc. What are the legal implications (ADA) of making her take a required Speech (public speaking) course?
Stuttering and detox
I am a family physician with an unusual case. I have a middle-aged male patient who went through alcohol detox 2 weeks ago, has been alcohol free, and now has developed a stutter over the past few days. He has never stuttered before. He is not on any medications. He denies any emotional component to his stutter but acknowleges that it does seem worse when talking with people he "cares about." I understand that this is an acquired stutter. Does it seem fair to say that it may be due to situational stress around his first effort at alcohol detox/rehab and that the stuttering may resolve. Could it be aquired because of brain damage from alcoholism and his drinking masked the stutter until he stopped?
last updated May 24, 2008