Understand the stuttering

Stuttering/ stammering is a very common speech disorder and a highly neglected problem. Only people with stuttering know what they are going through. For others it’s just a ‘problem’. The most common question is ‘can stuttering be cured’. In order to answer that question we have to look deep in to the world of stuttering.


It is the disruption in the smooth forward flow of speech characterized by repetition of sounds, syllables, or words; prolongation of sounds; and interruption in speech known as blocks. Most of the times at the event of speech disruptions, it is accompanied by secondary behaviors such as head shaking, rapid eye blinking, hand or lip tremors, or other involuntary movements.


Stuttering usually starts between 2-6 years of age. In 75% of cases the stuttering resolves it’s own and that is called normal non fluency (NNF) which lasts only less than 6 months. Stuttering lasts for longer period.

The exact cause of stuttering is unknown. But the possible causes are listed below.

  • Family/ genetic history: Many people who stutter have a family member who stutter
  • Brain differences
  • Certain environmental factors includes childhood trauma, anxiety, fast rate of speech, high communication demand and other stressful events.


There are different studies from all over the world found out that there are differences in the brain activity of the people who stutter comparing to the people who are not.

Experts at the Max planck institute of human cognitive and brain sciences and university of medical center discovered that the hyperactivity in the right hemisphere is the central cause of stuttering.

Parts of the right inferior frontal gyrus are particularly active when we stop actions such as hand or speech movements. If this region is overactive, it hinders other brain areas that are involved in the initiation and termination of movements. In people who stutter the brain regions that are responsible for speech movements are particularly affected. This hyperactivity impairs the left inferior frontal gyrus which processes the planning of speech movements. The over activity also hinders the left motor cortex which regulates speech movements.


Several studies have done to find out the genes involved in the stuttering and the results suggested that mutation in the 4 genes (AP4E1, GNPTAB, GNPTG,NAGPA)  cumulatively account for approximately 20% of unrelated cases of persistent stuttering. However the studies are still ongoing on this subject.


People with stuttering try so many methods for the cure. But the most important and hardest thing for a person with stuttering to understand is there is no cure for stuttering like the cure for fever or cold. However the only scientifically proven treatment for stuttering is speech therapy. But like any other speech disorder stuttering also requires a handful of sessions to treat or manage it.

As read above, most of the stuttering starts during the early childhood. So the best advice to the parent is to consult a speech therapist immediately. This way we can monitor and manage stuttering better.

Generally stuttering seen in teens or adults is the extension of their untreated childhood stuttering. At this point communication related anxiety, avoidance of speaking situations or particular words and secondary behaviors also may have developed.

A speech language pathologist will help you to manage your stuttering events more efficiently using scientific and research based techniques. Always remember hiding your stuttering won’t take you anywhere. Acceptance is the key to tackle this puzzle. Children/ adults who stutter may have to do follow up visits with their speech therapist for the better management.

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