What is Stuttering?

  • Stuttering is a complex communication disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population (over 68 million people) and 3 million Americans. Many children go through a period of stuttering but then outgrow it, so approximately 5% of children stutter at some point in their lives.
  • Stuttering is a variable disorder that can be confusing and potentially frustrating at times. Stuttering frequency can change from word to word, sentence to sentence, hour to hour, month to month, or even year to year. Sometimes, environmental factors can effect the variability in fluency, but other times, spontaneous fluency appears to be random. Because of this variability, in addition to environmental factors and the challenges of therapy, progress is not always linear.
  • Because stuttering is a multi-dimensional disorder, it is often defined in three parts:
    • Affective: The way one feels about stuttering, such as: feeling ashamed, embarrassed, anxious, etc.
    • Behavioral: The observable characteristics, such as repetitions (c-c-car), prolongations (mmmine), blocks (—-book), physical struggle, avoidance behaviors, etc.
    • Cognitive: The way one thinks about stuttering and themselves, such as: thinking people don’t like them, thinking they are stupid, thinking they are less of a person, etc.
  •  As described in this definition, stuttering is more than just the way someone speaks. Stuttering can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Often, because of the affective, behavioral, and cognitive reactions, stuttering can largely impact a person’s quality of life. While complete fluency is not always attainable, with support and the help of FRIENDS, stuttering does not need to negatively impact any child or family.