stuttering


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stuttering

or

stammering,

speech disorder marked by hesitation and inability to enunciate consonants without spasmodic repetition. Known technically as dysphemia, it has sometimes been attributed to an underlying personality disorder. About half of all those who have speech and voice defects suffer from stuttering or stammering (the terms are used interchangeably). In 65% of people who stutter, there is a family history of the disorder, thus suggesting a genetic link. Studies with twins have also indicated that inheritance has an important role in stuttering; comparing pairs in which at least one twin stuttered, it has been found that identical twins were much more likely to be stutterers than fraternal twins (see multiple birthmultiple birth,
bringing forth of more than one offspring at birth. Although many smaller mammals bear several young at a time, multiple births are relatively uncommon in humans and other primates.
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). Brain scans of stutterers have found higher than normal activity in brain areas that coordinate conscious movement, suggesting that in people who stutter speech occurs less automatically than it does in most people.

In many instances the speech disturbance appears to be precipitated by such situations as a change of surroundings, the advent of a younger child in the family, or by a family environment in which parents are overly concerned with childhood speech interruptions, which occur normally. Negative reactions to the stuttering frequently create feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, which, in turn, intensify the condition. Parents with young children who stutter have been urged by specialists to help their children develop positive attitudes about themselves and their speech. Older stutterers are taught to understand what processes interfere with fluent speech and to speak without the disruptions caused by tension. Psychiatric treatment and group psychotherapygroup psychotherapy,
a means of changing behavior and emotional patterns, based on the premise that much of human behavior and feeling involves the individual's adaptation and response to other people.
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 have been helpful for many.

Bibliography

See M. Jezer, Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words (1997).

Stuttering

 

a complex speech disorder manifested by abnormal speech rhythm, involuntary hesitation, or compulsive repetition of individual sounds and syllables.

Stuttering is generally functional when there are no organic lesions in the speech mechanisms of the central and peripheral nervous systems. In rare cases, it may be caused by organic lesions of the central nervous system (in brain injuries, neuroinfections, and so forth). It appears, as a rule, in young children (two to five years old) at the time when they are forming complete sentences; it is especially common in excitable, nervous children.

Three types of stuttering are distinguished according to the part of the speech apparatus in which periodic spasms occur. The earliest and mildest is the clonic spasm whereby sounds or syllables are repeated (b—b—ball, lo-lo—lo—locomotive). In time it often changes into the more severe tonic spasm when long pauses occur at the beginning or in the middle of a word (b—all, loc—omotive). The third type is mixed stuttering. Sometimes during or before speech, spasms of the muscles of the face or extremities combine with spasms of the speech muscles. These so-called accompanying movements are also involuntary and compulsive.

One of the causes of functional stuttering is excessively high demands placed on children’s speech, such as coercion to repeat incomprehensible and difficult words, to recite difficult verses before strangers, or to read matter not suited to the child’s age and development. Children with under-developed speech often begin to stutter when they do not have a large enough stock of words and grammatical resources to express their thoughts. Physical punishment and fright may bring on stuttering. It can also be acquired as a result of imitation.

Stuttering is usually intensified in school. Children begin to be aware of their shortcomings and new demands are placed on their speech. Stuttering, as a rule, is most severe in youth; it begins to diminish after 30. It is very important to prevent a child from starting to stutter. If he repeats individual sounds or stops suddenly at the beginning or middle of a word, he should be taken to a neuropathologist and logopedist because stuttering generally does not disappear spontaneously but gradually develops into the severe, persistent form. The child’s attention should not be focused on his stuttering nor should he be required to repeat words that are difficult for him; this may make him afraid of his own speech and reinforce the stuttering.

Complete rest (silence) is useful in inhibiting pathological connections (for a month the child speaks in a whisper and only when necessary). During this time he does not read, learn poems or stories, go to the movies or theater, or watch television. Stuttering can be corrected by the child’s practicing logopedic exercises and receiving drugs, physical therapy, and psychotherapy. Since the regulatory influence of the environment is very important, the members of the family must be involved.

Exercises to correct stuttering are always performed in groups because constant speech practice before others is essential. The content and form of the logopedic exercises vary with the age of the stutterers. During the exercises they develop the ability to speak freely without stuttering (from the easiest, simplest forms of speech to complex, general, and detailed communications). A calm family situation and proper attitude toward the stutterer on the part of those around him are necessary to overcome the impediment completely.

In the USSR, the correction of stuttering is centered in special institutions: for preschoolers, in special kindergartens, special groups at very large kindergartens, and out-patient clinics; for schoolchildren, in logopedic rooms in schools, polyclinics, and psychoneurological clinics; and for adolescents and adults, in psychoneurological clinics on an outpatient basis or in special departments of hospitals on an inpatient basis.

Stuttering cannot be overcome without prolonged and systematic effort. Stuttering is considered completely cured when it no longer occurs even in long conversations with strangers.

REFERENCES

Levina, R. E. “K probleme zaikaniia u detei.” Defektologiia, 1969, no. 3.
Cheveleva, N. A. Ispravlenie rechi u zaikaiushchikhsia doshkoVnikov. Moscow, 1965.
N. A. CHEVELEVA
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