Stuttering (dysphemia): definition, causes, techniques to stop it

Stuttering dysphemia


This stuttering speech disorder, which appears in early childhood, can be very disabling socially if it is not treated early. So what characterizes stuttering and how do you treat it effectively?

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Stuttering is a communication disorder (according to DSM5) reaching fluency, which is characterized by repetition of syllables, hesitation or interruption of speech. this disorder is a very common pathology in children since nearly 5% are affected. Usually, this disorder appears in the first years of speech and disappears before adulthood. “The onset of stuttering can be sudden (related to a psychological trigger, but not necessarily) or can appear more insidiously,”. In general, men are much more affected than women (4 men for 1 woman).

There are different types of stuttering:
  • Transient developmental stuttering (75% of cases): which generally occurs between the ages of 2 and 4 and which disappears spontaneously.
  • Persistent developmental stuttering, which begins between the ages of 2 and 4 (or rarely later) and which will persist into adolescence and adulthood.

Classically, stuttering is fluctuating and accentuated by certain elements such as fatigue or stress (more precisely strong emotions, both positive and negative). “At present it is not possible to distinguish a transient stutter from a stutter that would be persistent. Early speech therapy is necessary to optimize the prognosis for regression of stuttering”, adds the speech therapist.

October 22: World Stuttering Day

Every October 22, since 1997, an opportunity given to people who stutter to be heard and to anyone who feels concerned to learn more about this speech and communication disorder.

This disorder can have significant repercussions on social and professional life and it is important to provide information to parents, educators and those concerned and to let them know that solutions exist.


The causes and risk factors of this disorder are not yet clearly established, although it would seem that a child of a parent who stutters is more at risk of suffering from this disorder. This disorder is common since it affects about 1% of the population, mainly young boys. Normally, this disorder begins in the first years of language learning, then tends to lessen or disappear before adulthood.

Certain factors, such as fatigue or stress, increase stuttering, which usually occurs intermittently. On the contrary, it can decrease in certain circumstances: if the person is alone, or when singing. “Research on stuttering is evolving, and the tracks of a genetic cause are becoming clearer. Several genes are thought to be implicated in the appearance of stuttering. As a result, a person who has a person who stutters in his or her family circle presents more than risks of declaring a stutter. In addition, scientists have demonstrated a modification of neurological areas related to language in some people who stutter. At present, researchers agree on the fact that many factors are to be taken into account in the causes of stuttering”.

What is neurological stuttering?

Neurological stuttering is different from developmental stuttering. It can occur after brain injury such as stroke or head trauma).


this disorder is manifested by the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal speech flow;
  • The jerky repetition of certain syllables;
  • Hesitation before or between certain words;
  • Speech blocking in the middle of a sentence, as if the next word wouldn’t come out.

this disorder is often fluctuating and is accentuated in the event of excitement or stress. It is less important or sometimes non-existent when the patient is confident, shouting or singing. “It is essential to distinguish normal disfluencies (small speech accidents when learning to speak and even in adulthood) from stuttering (tension or a struggle to get words out)”, specifies the speech therapist.


When you notice the onset of stuttering in your child, it is important to speak to your doctor who will refer the family to a speech therapist. It is he who will judge the diagnosis and the need or not of a treatment.

What techniques to treat stuttering?

There are many approaches to treating this disorder. Some relate to children under 7 (the Lidcombe program among others, whose effectiveness has been demonstrated in several studies) and others relate to older children and adults. These different techniques often include a strong partnership with those around you.

What is speech therapy used for?

To treat this disorder, the patient is taken care of by a speech therapist. This specialist will carry out an assessment and give valuable advice to parents to reduce their child’s stuttering. Together, the speech therapist, the patient and his family will begin an adapted treatment. At a more advanced age, support by a speech therapist can be accompanied by psychological support if the patient feels the need.

What exercises to do?

As this disorder depends on many factors, there is no standard answer. The speech therapist, depending on the stuttering of his patient but also of those around him, will determine in partnership with the family the most suitable type of treatment.


Certain behaviors are to be avoided so that the stuttering disappears. “For example, it is counterproductive to tell a child who stutters “breathe, calm down”, to stigmatize his speech “make an effort, apply yourself to speak” or to ask him to repeat. his word, we can put ourselves at his height, look him in the eye and let him know that we are available to listen to him. We can also slow down our flow or lend him the word he is stumbling on to help him”.

Sources: PinterPandai, Mayo Clinic, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Photo credit: Pixahive (CC0 Public Domain)

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