Dysfluency (also referred to as 'stammering') is the abnormal disruption to the natural flow of speech. It is a developmental disorder which most commonly begins between the ages of 2 and 5 years of age.
Recognised characteristics include: frequent repetitions of the initial sounds in words, or syllables (e.g. 'b b b boat' or 'wa wa wa wa water'); prolongation of sounds (e.g. 'buuuuuuut'); or 'blocks' that interrupt the airflow or voicing in speech. Individuals who experience dysfluency may substitute difficult words, avoid certain situations, present with physical symptoms such as facial/body tension, or try different ways of speaking such as whispering.
Some pre-school age children go through a developmental period when minor dysfluency is experienced. A therapist who specialises in this area will be able to decide whether there is any cause for concern, for instance, whether a child is at risk of not recovering spontaneously. Referral to a Speech and Language Therapist is recommended as soon as possible following the onset of stammering.
How we can help
Our therapists will complete a thorough assessment of the client's stammer and their general speech and language abilities. Following the process, we will offer advice to our clients and parents/carers about whether or not therapy input is indicated and, where it is needed, offer guidance about the most suitable and effective management approach as well as support in implementing the strategies involved.
There are various therapy approaches that deal directly with stammering behaviours including: The Lidcombe Programme (encouraging the client to use stammer-free speech by employing operant techniques); and the fluency technique (involving the reduction of the speech rate and gentle articulation).
Indirect therapy approaches include the Parent-Child Interaction Approach which targets stammering through the interactions between the parent/carer and the child.
Experienced therapists will be able to select elements from different therapy approaches to suit the needs of the individual client.