What is Stuttering? What Causes Stuttering in Toddlers and Adults

What is stuttering
  • Is stuttering voluntary or involuntary?
  • How it affects social life?
  • What are the factors responsible for this speech syndrome?
  • Can stuttering be treated completely? How?

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a medical term which you use for a speech disorder. In this condition, the victim faces problems in speaking. They experienceuncontrollable repetitions of first syllable of words and phrases. Also they make involuntary long pauses in speech.

The patients can not normally speak in a flow. However, they have difficulty in talking and conversing clearly. Moreover, the fluency of speech suffers a lot.

“Stuttered Speech Syndrome”

It is, by and large, not an issue with the physical generation of sounds. The patients can also put thoughts into words. It does not even occur in the time or state of anxiety and other stress conditions. However, the problem can appear in people who have mild or extreme form of this disorder.

Living in a society with a stigmatized disorder often causes the feelings of depression and acute anxiety. And this ultimately worsens the situation of stammering individuals. Such a condition is often referred to as the “stuttered speech syndrome”.

The level of stammering increases in situations when the stutterer is self-conscious. For instance, such situations includespeaking in front of a large number of individuals. Also they may be speaking on the telephone. This is why, it varies depending upon the conditions or states.


This developmental disorder is not really easy for a mere listener to identify in anindividual. It takes the skills of a professional and qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP). They study and interpret the casehistory of the patient with the help of their guardian.

It may take a few speech sessions to determine the problem and its severity. An SLP has to evaluate the patient’s speech patterns carefully. After they,they can assess if there is any chance of the patient to develop the disorderpermanently in near future.


There is no significant single cause of the disorderthat the scientists know. Among many of the theories and hypothesis by different physicians, genetic inheritance is the most compelling one. There is the observation thatpeople with family histories of stuttered patients have a high tendency of getting the disorder.


There is no certain cure of the disorder. So, the speech-language pathologists employ different kinds of methods of speech therapies. These therapies aid in the improvement of the stammering individuals.

Moreover, pathologists also put to use the methods of speed reduction and breathing control. At the same time, they recommend slow movement from single-syllable reactions to longer words. In the end, there should be more difficult and compound sentences.

These techniques have clearly been found to be very effective in the improvement of such struggling individuals.

What Causes Stuttering in Toddlers?

Stuttering and stammering is not usually a matter of concern for parents of toddlers. This is because children between the ages of 2 to 5 are still learning to speak. They may struggle with vocabulary and pronunciation of words. Therefore, stuttering in toddlers is common and people do not regard it a disorder.

However, at times the problem does raise concern. Persistent stuttering and stammering may indicate a more serious speech disorder. Doctors and experts identify the following causes behind the issue.

Genetic Inheritance

A child belonging to a family with a history of stuttering disorder is likely to exhibit the same trait. This speech problem may pass from parents or other close relations including grandparents or aunts and uncles to offspring.

Researchers have discovered that in around sixty percent of the cases, toddlers who stutter have a close relative with the same disorder.

Developmental Delays

Toddlers are still learning new words and sentence formation. Some master the art early while other may take a long time. Developmental delays often lead to this disorder. The problem can be overcome with the help of an expert, for instance, a speech therapist.

On the other hand, parents can also help their toddlers establish smooth speech skills. For example, they can provide them specially designed learning tools. These include DVDs, placards and special toys. They help kids in learning language fast.

Brain Disorders

Like all other activities and human abilities, speech is also controlled by the brain. Therefore, any brain disorder can affect how a person speaks. A birth defect may cause toddlers to face difficulty in establishing smooth speaking skills.

An injury may also be behind brain damage. The brain damage can have effects on the development of speech skills.

Parental Pressure

Stuttering is commonly associated with pressure and stress. In these situations, even adults stammer and face difficulty speaking fluently. The same is the case with toddlers who face family pressure.

Parents with high expectations often try to make their kids learn too fast. These tactics may backfire and lead to development issues. It may damage self-esteem. Just like a grown up, a toddler faces the stress of high expectations and low self-confidence. So, they may find it hard to establish fluency in speech.

Attention Deficient Disorder

Another reason which may contribute to speech disorders like stuttering is the Attention Deficient Disorder. In this condition, the victims are hyperactive and find it difficult to focus. As a result, stuttering and stammering may occur.

What Causes Stuttering in Adults?

The human brain works in wonderful ways when it comes to various tasks including speech. However, scientists are of the view that the brain activity of stutterers is very strange. During speech, the right hemisphere of the brain is more active. The CT scans of normal individuals support the same idea.

This side of the brain deals majorly with emotions and psychological functions of the human body. Such observations show that the stammering or the stuttering in adults occurs due to stress and traumatic conditions. Other factors include anxiety and the fear of speaking in public in general.

The following are the major and most prominent causes of stuttering in adults. You can go through them one by one.

Brain Trauma

Sometimes, after a traumatic brain injury, adults can start experiencing the onset of stuttering. Different brains cells carry out the neurotic functions of brain. They are responsible for various body activities including speaking.

In abnormal conditions, some motor neurons are unable to perform the task properly. It results in difficulty establishing fluent and clear speech.


“Stuttering because of stress and stress because of stuttering” is a positive feedback mechanism. Sometimes, patients experience stammering inonly stressful conditions. Such stressful conditions include addressing the public or answering phone calls.

There may also be occasional problems in using some specific alphabets. Similarly, when individuals start stuttering, they tend to feel embarrassment about themselves. This results in more self-conscious feelings and ultimately more stress.

Degenerative Diseases

Stuttering primarily occurs due to certain brain degenerative disorders like the Parkinson’s disease. In this case, the victim is unable to enunciate properly and speak clearly. The normal brain activity of neurons does not take place.

This results in the severity of the disorder. Sometimes, you can inherit it from parents if they face the problem of stuttering. In such situations, there’s a good chance that one may be having it since the time of birth.


Usage of drugs, which also includes self-medication, has an influence on the speaking patterns of people. Temporary stuttering can be the result of a side effect of drugs usage. But, you can also bring it back to normal by stopping or decreasing the use of such drugs.


Sometimes, the medical professionals cannot determine the exact cause of stammering. So, they just term it as idiopathic. This term defines a disease or disorder with an unknown underlying cause.In this case, the disorder is even harder to treat.

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