Stuttering or dysfluency is characterized by a high frequency or duration of disruptions in the forward flow of speech. These disruptions typically take the form of:
- sounds (“a a a a”)
- syllables (“da da da ddy”)
- words (“and and and”)
- phrases (“I want I want”)
- Prolongations of sounds (“aaaa-pple”)
- Interjections of extra sounds (“uh” or “um”)
- Hesitations in airflow or voicing
Extraneous body movements called “secondary characteristics”, such as hard eye blinks, head nods, and/or excessive tension in the face and neck, often accompany these disruptions. Young children may not exhibit secondary characteristics until they become aware of their dysfluency.
Studies indicate both genetic and environmental components contribute to stuttering. However, the cause of stuttering is unknown.
An individual should be referred for an evaluation if the dysfluency has been present for six weeks or longer.
A dysfluency/stuttering evaluation is comprised of four primary components:
- Review of the individual’s history
- Oral reading sample
- Monologue speech sample (for example, individual will describe his or her favorite vacation)
- Conversational speech sample
These samples will be analyzed and rated using the Stuttering Severity Instrument (Riley, 1972).