What is a Fluency Disorder?
A Fluency Disorder (e.g., stuttering/stammering or cluttering) is a disruption to the functional flow of speech. Stuttering can be characterized by frequent repetitions of speech sounds, syllables, words and/or phrases, prolongations of speech sounds, and blocks (feeling that a sound is “stuck”). A person who stutters may or may not show other behaviors such as blinking, head jerks, hand movements, etc., that further disrupt the natural flow of speech. Cluttering can be characterized by persistent ‘jumbling’ of sounds during speech. Cluttering can often make one’s speech difficult for others to understand, as sounds are perceived to run together. Stuttering can be seen in the normal course of development as children begin to use more complex language and usually resolves within a few months. Stuttering can also persist into adulthood.
Assessment of Fluency Disorder includes an analysis of language samples that are obtained by a speech-language pathologist. This language sample is analyzed for percentage of syllables stuttered, length of stuttering events, and types of stuttering patterns. Assessment also includes a thorough interview with the patient and/or parent to determine the overall impact of the Fluency Disorder on the patient’s quality of life.
Treatment approach varies based on patient’s age and level of maturity. For younger children who stutter, treatment may include working with parents to facilitate fluency in the home environment. For older patients who have better awareness of their stuttering, treatment may include strategies for achieving and maintaining fluency. A personalized program is developed to address affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of stuttering. Treatment may also include participation in group sessions scheduled with age-matched peers.
Links for more information:
American Speech and Hearing Association: www.asha.org