Stuttering is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by repetitions (sounds, syllables, words, phrases), sound prolongations, blocks, interjections, and revisions, which may affect the rate and rhythm of speech. Stammering and stuttering mean the same thing.
People who stutter may have more dysfluencies and different types of dysfluencies:
Repeating whole words, e.g. "and-and-and then I left"
Repeating parts of words (sounds or syllables), e.g. "c-c-come h-h-here" or "an-animal"
Prolonging or stretching sounds, e.g. "gggggggggo out"
Blocking - the tongue and lips are in the position to say a word, but everything feels stuck, and no sound comes out
Tensing up or pushing the face or body to get the words out
Doing something with your body to try and get the word, such as moving your head, stamping your feet or blinking your eyes repetitively
Doing something with your body to try and hide the stutter, such as putting your hand over your mouth or turning away
Stuttering typically has its origins in childhood. Most kids who stutter begin to do so around 2.6 years of age. Approximately 95% of kids who stutter start do so before five years old. Children who stutter may report anxiety or fear about speaking and frustration/embarrassment with the time and effort required to speak.
The frequency and severity of stuttering may fluctuate from day to day and in relation to the speaking situation. Stuttering is often more severe when there is an increased pressure to communicate (e.g. talking aloud at school or competing for talking time at home).
Research shows that there are benefits of early intervention, and it is best to seek a Speech-Language Pathologist to support fluency with therapy. Early intervention is shown to be key to preventing stuttering, and the 'wait-and-see' approach has a greater likelihood to result in persistent stuttering into adulthood.