Stuttering, also called stammering or childhood-onset fluency disorder, is a speech disorder that appears as an interruption in the smooth flow or fluency of speech. People who stutter know what they want to say, but have difficulty saying it. This occurs when an individual experiences repetitions (e.g. “I wah, wah, want to go.”), prolongations (“I wwwwant to go.”), and/or blocking (“I…want to go.”). Often, individuals who stutter demonstrate secondary behaviours such as poor eye contact, body movements and avoidance of difficult words.
Stuttering may look different from one individual to another and can range from a single word repetition (“My-my dad went to the store”) to an extended block (i.e. can’t get the word out). Seeking therapy may increase a speaker’s confidence, as well as reduce the likelihood of social withdrawal or avoidance of certain communication situations (e.g. speaking to teachers, answering questions in class, oral presentations).