Stuttering — also called stammering or childhood-onset fluency disorder — is a speech disorder that involves frequent and significant problems with the normal fluency and flow of speech. People who stutter know what they want to say, but have difficulty saying it. For example, they may repeat or prolong a word, syllable or phrase, or stop during speech and make no sound for certain syllables.

Stuttering is common among young children as a normal part of learning to speak. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren't developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow this developmental stuttering.

Sometimes, however, stuttering is a chronic condition that persists into adulthood. This type of stuttering can have an impact on self-esteem and interactions with other people.

If you're an adult who stutters, seek help if stuttering causes you stress or anxiety or affects your self-esteem, career or relationships. See your doctor or a speech-language pathologist, or search for a program designed to treat adult stuttering.

Children and adults who stutter may benefit from treatments such as speech therapy, psychological counseling or using electronic devices to improve speech patterns. After a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist, a decision about the best treatment approach can be made.

Aug. 20, 2014

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