What is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder that arises in early childhood (between 2 -4 years) and has proven to respond very effectively to treatment. The following describes stuttering, causes, treatment, important facts and natural recovery.

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What is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder that can be defined as involuntary interruptions to speech. These interruptions can include:

  • Repetitions of sounds – p p p put the milk in the fridge
  • Repetition of words – can can can I go outside
  • Prolongations of sounds – h——–how old are you?
  • Blocks (involuntary stoppages of sounds often at the start of the word)

The nature of a child’s stutter can vary from day to day and between months.

Stuttering Causes

Stuttering is thought to be a physical disorder probably caused by some problem with the neural processing (brain activity) that underlies speech production. Stuttering has a genetic component but the nature of the link is unknown.

Stuttering FACTS

  • Stuttering arises in childhood.
  • Stuttering increases between 2 to 4 years of age. Onset usually begins when the child is starting to put words together and formulate sentences.
  • Stuttering is 4 times more prevalent in males than females
  • Stuttering is NOT caused by psychological factors
  • Stuttering is NOT caused by adverse parenting practices


Early treatment is extremely important. Most effective treatments involve a behavioural treatment approach. Please contact s speech pathologist for treatment advice.

Natural Recovery

Many children naturally recover from stuttering however it is difficult to determine which children will and won’t naturally recover. Natural recovery is more likely when:

  • There is a family history of natural recovery
  • Recovery occurs shortly after onset
  • Girls are more likely to naturally recover than boys

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The review "What is Stuttering?" was last updated on 18/06/2009.