What is stammering?

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Stammering, also called stuttering, is when someone has trouble speaking smoothly. They might repeat sounds or words, stretch them out, or have trouble saying them. This is not the same as when we pause or change our words while speaking.

Did you know that around 1 in 12 children, which is about 8%, might stammer at some point? Many of these children will stop stammering on their own within a few months. But for 1 in 50 grown-ups, stammering continues, and it's more common in men, about 3-4 times more likely.

There are two kinds of signs that show up when someone stammers:

1. Overt characteristics

These are things you can hear or see when someone talks, like:

  • Repeating sounds, syllables, or words (for example, saying "k-k-king").
  • Making sounds longer (like "lllllake").
  • Suddenly stopping while speaking or finding it hard to make certain sounds.
  • Looking tense in the face, breathing, and body.

2. Covert characteristics

These are feelings inside that you can't see from the outside, like:

  • Feeling worried, frustrated, or embarrassed when speaking.
  • Avoiding certain words or sounds that are tricky to say, even your own name or some sounds in words.
  • Staying away from situations where you stammer more, like talking on the phone or giving speeches.

How often stammering happens and how much it affects a person can be different for everyone. It's really important to understand both the things you can hear and see and the feelings inside to help children and young people who stammer in the best way possible.

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