• Marcia Campagna

Stuttering levels and How to Help

Stuttering is an interruption in the forward flow of speech. It is thought to be caused by a number of factors including genetics, the environment and a neurological component. There are five developmental levels of stuttering and it is important to distinguish among them.


Normal Disfluency

Age range: 18 months - 6 years old

Types of disfluencies include:

  1. Interjections (I want, uh, cookies)

  2. Revisions (I want----I see the dog)

  3. Word Repetitions (Look look over here!)

  4. Phrase repetitions (how about----how about I go first.)

Borderline Stuttering

Age range: 18 months - 6 years old

Types of disfluencies include:

  1. Word Repetitions

  2. Sound repetitions (I s---s---see the cat)

  3. Occasional prolongations (Shhhhhhhe wants to go now)

Beginning Stuttering

Age range: 2-8 years old

Types of disfluencies include:

  1. Sound and word repetitions

  2. Prolongations and blocks (I want some m...tense pause...milk)

  3. Child may begin to feel tension when speaking and rush through their speech

  4. "Escape behaviors" such as eye blinking and foot stomping may appear as an attempt to "finish" or "get out" of the stutter

  5. Child may begin to notice their speech disfluencies and feel bad

Intermediate Stuttering

Age range: 6-13 years old

Types of disfluencies include:

  1. Blocks and occasional repetitions and prolongations

  2. Person may anticipate words or situations in which they will stutter and avoid them

  3. Conditioning may occur (one bad experience tends to lead to more bad experiences in similar situations, so child may avoid them altogether.)

  4. Person may feel fear before stuttering, embarrassment during stuttering, and shame after stuttering; helplessness and negativity about speaking are common

Advanced Stuttering

Age range: 14 years or older

Types of disfluencies include:

  1. Person may have very long, intense moments of blocking

  2. Avoidances will be more ingrained

  3. Person may have very intense negative feelings about speaking and about themselves as a person

Regardless of the level, speaking should be a fun and positive experience. Interactions with your child should follow this principle: Fun! Positive speaking experiences for children with and without a stuttering concern are critical for developing an "approach" attitude toward speaking and toward life.

The most important thing to remember is that stuttering is NOT your fault. There are certain thing you can do to help. Choose one of the strategies to focus on for 2 straight weeks or until you feel as though it is ingrained into your communication style, then add another.


Ways a Listener can Help

1. Speak Slowly:

Try to speak slow and relaxed but not so slow as to sound unnatural. This allows time to process speech and formulate a response.

2. Increase pausing time between speakers

After the person finishes speaking, count to 3 before responding.

3. Don't rush the speaker:

Telling someone to "slow down", "take a breath", or "relax" is not helpful and can be felt as demeaning.

4. Reduce the number of questions you ask

If it feels like they're being interrogated, they may be flustered thus more likely to be disfluent.

5. Maintain natural eye contact

This nonverbal aspect of communication validates the person's speech.

6. Focus on patiently listening to what they say.

Resist temptation to finish sentences or fill in words.


Stay tuned for a guest post from Rosy Lemus-Elkurd, MA, CFY, SLP introducing Avoidance Reduction Therapy of Stuttering (ARTS®) and how ARTS® can help you with stuttering.


Interested in getting started in the ARTS®? Schedule a stuttering evaluation with Rosy NOW!



#ARTS® #stuttering, #stammering, #speech, #stutter, #stammer,

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