A fluency problem, otherwise known as stuttering or stammering is when the flow of speech is disrupted by:

1. Repetitions

These can be repetitions of individual sounds
in words e.g. “H…H…How many sugars would you like in your coffee”

2. Whole words and phrases

e.g. “Can, Can, Can I please have two”

3. Prolongations

i.e. when sounds in a word are extended e.g. “Mmmummy name is …”

4. Blocks

i.e. when a word is ‘stuck’ and there is a silence/pause in speech production as a result.
This is sometimes accompanied by facial grimaces and or groping

Issues associated with stuttering:

It is not uncommon for people who stutter to report that confidence and self-esteem have been affected because of their difficulty maintaining fluency when speaking. This can result in:-

  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Anxiety about speaking
  • As the cause of stuttering is still unknown there is no “cure”, however, there are evidence based therapy techniques to assist in treatment and management.
  • For young children (preschool aged), the Lidcombe Program is used. With school aged children, the Westmead Program is used (this involves syllable timed speech)
  • For adolescents and adults the Camperdown program is most frequently used. This technique trains the individual in use of a new speech pattern that replaces stuttered speech. Therapy duration is dependent on a client’s response to the intervention process.
  • If confidence and social changes are directly related to stuttering, a speech pathologist may be able to address these while also increasing fluency. In some cases, a referral to a psychologist may also be recommended.

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