Stammering - What is it and how is it Caused?

October 20, 2011
The King - Shah Rukh Khan
Stammering and stuttering have the same meaning - it is a speech disorder in which the person repeats or prolongs words, syllables or phrases. The person with a stutter (or stammer) may also stop during speech and make no sound for certain syllables. People who stutter often find that stress and fatigue make it harder for them to talk flowingly, as well as situations in which they become self-conscious about speaking, such as public speaking or teaching. Most people who stutter find that their problem eases if they are relaxed. A well-known Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan have been known to have a pronounced history of stammering.

What are the signs and symptoms of stuttering?

    Problems starting a word, phrase or sentence
    Hesitation before certain sounds have to be uttered
    Repeating a sound, word or syllable
    Certain speech sounds may be prolonged
    Speech may come out in spurts
    Words with certain sounds are substituted for others (circumlocution)
    Rapid blinking (when trying to talk)
    Trembling lips (when trying to talk)
    Foot may tap (when trying to talk)
    Trembling jaw (when trying to talk)
    Face and/or upper body tighten up (when trying to talk)
    Some may appear out of breath when talking
    Interjection, such as "uhm" used more frequently before attempting to utter certain sounds
What causes stuttering?
Experts are not completely sure. We do know that somebody with a stutter is much more likely to have a close family member who also has one, compared to other people. The following factors may also trigger/cause stuttering:
    Developmental stuttering - as children learn to speak they often stutter, especially early on when their speech and language skills are not developed enough to race along at the same speed as what they want to say. The majority of children experience fewer and fewer symptoms as this developmental stage progresses until they can speak flowingly.

  Neurogenic stuttering - when the signals between the brain and speech nerves and muscles are not working properly. This may affect children, but may also affect adults after a stroke or some brain injury. In rare cases neurogenic stuttering results in lesions (abnormal tissue) in the motor speech area of the brain.

  Psychological factors - it used to be believed that the main reasons for long-term stuttering were psychological. Fortunately, this is not the case anymore. Psychological factors may make stuttering worse for people who stutter, such as stress, embarrassment, etc., but they are not generally seen as underlying long-term factors. In other words, anxiety, low self-esteem, nervousness, and stress therefore do not cause stuttering per se. Rather, they are the result of living with a stigmatized speech problem which can sometimes make symptoms worse.
Kids' Favorite - Hrithik Roshan

When to seek professional help

Experts say that parents should consider visiting their GP (general practitioner, primary care physician) when:
    The child's stuttering has persisted for over six months
    When the stuttering occurs more frequently
    When it is accompanied with tightness of the facial and upper body muscles
    When it interferes with the child's schoolwork
    When it causes emotional difficulties, such as fear of places or situations
    When it persists after the child is 5 years old
Source: medicalnewstoday.com