Fluency disorders, disfluent speech and stuttering all refer to the same speech patterns. These patterns are marked by interruptions like repetition of syllables or words, multiple pauses in sentences, constant interjections like “um,” and getting stuck or blocked on certain words.
It’s natural for a child’s speech fluency to change and occasionally break down as their language skills develop. A fluency disorder is much more pronounced than normal speech stumbling, tends to persist and is often accompanied by visible tension. Fluency disorders in children of all ages are highly treatable with speech therapy.
How to Recognize Fluency Disorders
If you’re not sure if your child’s speech disfluency is indicative of a problem, compare their speech patterns to this list of symptoms of a fluency disorder:
- Repetitions (“Do, do, do, do you want to see?”)
- Holding a sound for too long (“I want my bbbbbear.”)
- Too many interjections (“My, um, my mom, um, went, um, to the store.”)
- Speech that is choppy and elongated
- Tension around the mouth or in the face while articulating
- Frequent blinking or tapping the mouth while speaking
Stuttering or disfluent speech is marked by primary behaviors and secondary behaviors. A primary behavior is the repetition of a sound, syllable, or phrase. Examples of secondary behaviors are physical tension in the face and frequent blinking. Not every child with a fluency disorder exhibits secondary behaviors.