Understanding Stammering or Stuttering

By | November 14, 2022

What is Stammering or Stuttering?

Dysfluency is the medical term for having difficulty in producing smooth fluent speech.  More commonly referred to as stammering in the UK or stuttering in the USA they all describe the same condition which is a speech impediment.

It’s believed to affect around 3 million adults and between 5 and 10 percent of children.  As children learn to speak at different ages dysfluency can often be a normal part of their speech development and as their speaking abilities aren’t yet fully developed they can grow out of it as these improve.

However if the condition persists and is left untreated it can carry on into their adult lives.  This can have a negative effect on their self-esteem and confidence, which can cause anxiety especially in social settings, as they can feel frustration as they struggle to speak in full sentences. 


It’s not fully understood what causes people to stammer or stutter but it affects more males than females, and you are more likely to develop the condition if a family member has dysfluency.  Delayed childhood development, having parents with high expectations of their children can also be contributory factors, and living in a stressful family environment can make existing symptoms worse. 

Physical Symptoms

·     Fist clenching

·     Head jerking

·     Rapid eye blinking

·     Facial twitching and tics

·      Lip and jaw tremors

Speech Symptoms

·      Difficulties communicating effectively

·      Extending or prolonging the sound of a word

·      Addition extra words or sounds when they have difficulty moving on to the next word

·      Difficulty starting a word phrase or sentence

·      Repeating words, syllables or sounds

·      Anxiety about speaking

·      Brief silences when saying certain words or syllables

·      Breaking words with a pause

·      Movements or tightness of the face or body when trying to say certain words

Associated Conditions or Risks

·      Low self- esteem and confidence

·      Avoiding situations where public speaking is involved

·      Anxiety

·      Being bullied or tormented because of their speech impediment

·      Feeling anxious about speaking and struggling to communicate with other people

·      Finding your school, work or social opportunities are negatively affected


Breathing and relaxation techniques will help you to slow down your speech and get your words out better, you can practice this with a friend which will make you feel more comfortable and at ease.  Joining a self-help group can be beneficial in helping you feel you’re not alone, you can also find out things that have helped them.  Practicing mindfulness can be useful, recording yourself speaking and studying it can help you see what triggers you as well as seeing improvements.

Professional Help

If your dysfluency is causing you anxiety or stress you should see your doctor who can prescribe medication that can help.  They may also suggest you see a therapist who can use CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which can help you to identify and change certain ways of thinking that could be making it worse, but also therapies like psychotherapy and clinical hypnotherapy to help you with anxiety or stress.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK). For more free Information click above link.