Stammering is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. The term stuttering is most commonly associated with involuntary sound repetition, but it also encompasses the abnormal hesitation or pausing before speech, referred to by people who stutter as blocks, and the prolongation of certain sounds, usually vowels or semivowels.
Stammering is typically recognised by a tense struggle to get words out. This makes it different from the normal non-fluency we all experience which includes hesitations and repetitions. Commonly it involves repeating or prolonging sounds or words, or getting stuck without any sound (silent blocking). Sometimes people put in extra sounds or words. Often people lose eye contact.
Some people who stammer talk their way round difficult words so that you may not realise they stammer at all. This avoidance of words, and avoidance of speaking in some or many situations, is an important aspect of stammering.
Stammering varies tremendously from person to person and is highly variable for the person who stammers who may be fluent one minute and struggling to speak the next.
Whilst some people who stammer and others object to the term "stammerer", there are other people who stammer who are comfortable with the term and will commonly use it themselves. BSA uses 'person who stammers' and 'stammerer' interchangeably, unless specifically referring to children where we would not use the term 'stammerer'.
Research seems to suggest that a combination of factors is involved. Stammering is at root a neurological condition, based in the wiring of the brain. Studies have shown differences in the anatomy and functioning of the brain of those who stammer compared with most other people.
Genetics are relevant, at least in many cases - see First genes found for stammering. Someone with stammering in the family seems more likely to develop a stammer themselves.
As an issue that affects communication, stammering can have a deep and lasting psychological impact - which in turn can affect and aggravate stammering.
Stammering affects people in different ways and can vary according to the situation in which the person finds themselves: to whom the person is talking; how they are feeling about themselves and their speech; and what they want to say. Stammering can vary from adult to adult and child to child in its manner, frequency and severity - but is also highly variable for the person who stammers.
Stammering is not simply a speech difficulty but is a serious communication problem. For the child or adult who stammers it can undermine their confidence and self-esteem, and affect their interactions with others as well as their education and employment prospects. Schoolchildren who stammer are more likely to be bullied.
We can treat stammering completely and permanently by Stammering Therapy.