Stuttering Causes: Why Do People Stutter?
What causes stuttering? People who stutter may have either childhood-onset fluency disorder or adult-onset fluency disorder. When someone stutters and stammers when trying to speak, they can't communicate as effectively as those who can speak smoothly and clearly. This can cause both children and adults with the disorder to have great anxiety about speaking and often causes them to limit their participation in social situations. For kids, this can adversely affect academic performance and in adults, career performance can suffer.
So, Why Do People Stutter?
Experts aren't clear about what causes stuttering, but it does tend to run in families, so there may be a genetic component. Further, boys are more likely than girls to develop stuttering speech. Boys are also more likely to continue to stutter as adults than girls. (Can You Cure Stuttering?)
About one in every 20 children will show some stuttering during speech between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. This could last a couple of months or persist for several years. But for a small number of these children, stuttering never goes away and frequently worsens. (Stuttering Treatment: How to Stop Stuttering) The DSM-5 refers to this as Childhood-onset Fluency Disorder, commonly called developmental stuttering. It's the most common type of stuttering. (Help for Stuttering- Availability and Where to Find It)
Another type of this fluency disorder, neurogenic stuttering, can begin during either childhood or adulthood. Neurogenic stuttering occurs after a person suffers a stroke or some type of brain injury. The injured brain has problems organizing the different components of speech because of communication issues between the brain and the nerves that move muscles involved in speaking.
Finally, psychogenic stuttering, caused by mental health issues, occurs due to severe emotional trauma or difficulty with complex thought processes and reasoning. Experts used to believe that this was the most common cause of stuttering, but now we know it's very rare.
A Deeper Look Into What Causes Stuttering
Researchers are continuing to study what causes stuttering in an effort to pinpoint and identify its causes. By learning more about the causes and improving early diagnosis techniques, they can develop improved treatment protocols. Most recently, scientists have discovered three genes associated with developmental stuttering. Other research is focusing on identifying traits indicating which children will eventually grow out of stuttering and which ones will likely suffer into adulthood.
Last Updated: 08 August 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD