I watched “The King’s Speech” last night (finally!) and am now inspired to write a bit about the condition known as stuttering.

Stuttering is a speech disorder where a person is unable to keep their speech flowing forward smoothly. Kids may get “stuck” on words, parts of words, or sounds. They may “block” and not be able to speak at all. Sometimes a person who stutters might repeat a word over and over, until they are able to move on.

Stuttering can be extremely frustrating for the person who is trying to speak their thoughts. Sometimes a person will also have odd facial movements or grimaces, stomp their feet, or do other strange things with their bodies. These things do not help the speech to “come out”, but they may have worked one time, and then became a habit after that.

Some facts about stuttering:

  • Stuttering is a genetically based disorder. Often (but not always!) people who stutter will have family members who stutter.
  • There is no cure for stuttering. If it persists past the age of 4, it will probably be a lifetime condition.
  • Stuttering is a physical disorder. Brain studies of people who stutter have shown that their brain activity is different than people who don’t stutter, even when they are speaking fluently.
  • Stuttering is more common in boys than in girls.
  • For some people, being under stress makes their stuttering worse.
  • Stuttering may be permanent, but it is NOT unchangeable! Speech therapy can make a dramatic difference in the severity of stuttering that a person experiences.

Speech therapy can help people who stutter to understand what is happening with their speech, and help them learn to use strategies which can help them speak more fluently.

The Stuttering Foundation is a wonderful organization which provides information and support to people who stutter, and their families. They made a video featuring kids who stutter which is available to watch on YouTube. I use this video with my kids who stutter, to help them understand more about stuttering. The kids in the video all stutter, so it is also a great example of what stuttering looks like in real life.