Stuttering is a complex and often-misunderstood communication disorder that can cause interruptions in a person’s speech. Children who stutter often have feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, or discomfort about their speech.
SAY was founded to help support these children and the world around them. We help children understand that every voice matters—even if you stutter.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is not easy to define, because it looks very different in each person, and can even change over the course of a person’s lifetime. As many as 5% of young children stutter, and approximately 1% of all people—that’s 70 million people!
Although no two people who stutter are exactly the same we can generally understand stuttering in three connected parts:
Each person who stutters will have different surface behaviors, and different degrees of difficulty with their speech. But it is important to recognize that stuttering is much more than what we can see and hear.
What causes stuttering?
Many factors contribute to stuttering as a child develops. The most up-to-date research says that stuttering has a genetic link. This can result in a person having small differences in how his or her brain is organized for speech and language. Other contributing factors may include the child’s temperament, emotions, and language development.
“But it is important to know that stuttering is nobody’s fault. Stuttering is not caused by anything parents do. And core stuttering behaviors are involuntary, which means that they cannot always be controlled. Many people find ways to work around or minimize the impact of their core stuttering, while speech therapy and support groups can play a role in helping individuals to better understand their speech. But it is different for everyone.”
How should I act around someone who stutters?
Be yourself, and give the other person as much time as they need to speak.
Remember—the main difference between a person who stutters and a person who doesn’t is that the person who stutters may need some extra time to talk.
Review our Listening Tips for more thoughts on how to support people who stutter of all ages.
Can stuttering be cured?
Stuttering cannot be “cured” like a disease or illness and there is no known medication to treat stuttering.
However, speech therapy and support groups have been shown to help children who stutter reduce the negative impact of stuttering on their lives. Young children (typically age 2 ½ to 6) often see reduced stuttering behaviors as they continue to grow, and it is thought that early intervention speech therapy makes a difference.
What can I do to help my child who stutters?
You and your child are not alone. Although it may be scary or intimidating to learn about stuttering, it is important to know that there are many professionals who are able to help, and a community of families and people who stutter who are willing to share their stories.
Each child has different needs when it comes to addressing stuttering. SAY has three different programs to meet these needs: Speech Therapy, Confident Voices After-School & Weekend Program, and Camp SAY.
We want to help you find the perfect fit for your child! For more information about our Speech Therapy program, please contact our Speech-Language Pathologist Ryan Millager at Ryan@SAY.org, or 212.414.9696, ext. 205, and download our new brochure.
For added information about SAY’s Confident Voices & Camp SAY programs, please submit an inquiry form or contact Meg Hart at Meg@SAY.org, or 212.414.9696.
You can also visit our Trusted Resources section for more information about stuttering and added options for treatment and support.