What the health: Why do people stutter?

17 Dec 2018

Why do people stutterStuttering is a common disorder where the actual cause is largely unknown.

There is a breakdown or a ‘slight glitch’ in the brain mechanisms responsible for speech production which causes disruptions when people are trying to speak. They know what they want to say but have difficulty in saying it due to the stutter.

It is known that family history plays an important role in stuttering, suggesting that it is a genetic condition rather than as a result of a psychological problem. Stuttering does not discriminate with respect to culture, socio-economic status, education or age. Approximately 1-2 per cent of adults are reported to stutter whereas stuttering is more prevalent in early childhood years (approximately 4-5 per cent of children stutter). Although stuttering can affect either sex, it is more common in males than females, and males can be less prone to recovery than females.

Stuttering is variable and will present differently from person to person. Due to the possible frustration and embarrassment of stuttering, a level of anxiety about speaking often accompanies the stutter. Speech pathology treatment is beneficial irrespective of age, particularly if stuttering impacts on communication and quality of life.

Adriana PenmanAUTHOR: Adriana Penman is a clinical lecturer in speech pathology for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Adriana specialises stuttering and fluency disorders across the lifespan. Her research aims to investigate the benefits of including simulation-based learning activities into program curricula. Adriana is committed to creating a learning environment that provides students with an opportunity to develop clinical skills where they can learn ‘on the job’ by bringing the clinic to the classroom through the integration of simulation.