Stuttering Myths

Myths about stuttering

Myth: People who stutter are not smart.
Reality: There is no link whatsoever between stuttering and intelligence. 

Myth: Nervousness causes stuttering.
Reality: Nervousness does not cause stuttering. Nor should we assume that people who stutter are prone to be nervous, fearful, anxious, or shy. They have the same full range of personality traits as those who do not stutter.

Myth: Stuttering can be “caught” through imitation or by hearing another person stutter.
Reality: You can’t “catch” stuttering. No one knows the exact causes of stuttering, but recent research indicates that family history (genetics), neurological development, and the child’s environment, including family dynamics, all play a role in the onset of stuttering.

Myth: It helps to tell a person to “take a deep breath before talking,” or “think about what you want to say first.”
Reality: This advice only makes a person more self-conscious, making the stuttering worse. More helpful responses include listening patiently and modeling slow and clear speech yourself.

Myth: Stress causes stuttering.
Reality: As mentioned above, many complex factors are involved. Stress is not the cause, but it certainly can aggravate stuttering just as it aggravates many other problems.

Is My Child Stuttering?

If your child has difficulty speaking and tends to hesitate on or repeat certain syllables, words, or phrases, he may have a child stuttering problem.  But he may simply be going through periods of normal dysfluency that most children experience as they learn to speak.


  1. The normal dysfluent child occasionally repeats syllables or words once or twice. Li-like this.  Dysfluencies may also include hesitancies and the use of fillers such as “uh”, “er”, “um.”
  2. Dysfluencies occur most often between the ages one and one and one-half and five years, and they tend to come and go.

They are usually signs that a child is learning to use language in new ways.  If dysfluencies appear for several weeks, then return, the child may just be going through another stage of learning.


  1. A child with milder stuttering repeats sounds more than twice. Li-li-like this. Tensions and struggle may be evident in the facial muscles, especially around the mouth.
  2. The pitch of the voice may rise with repetitions, and occasionally the child will experience a “block” – no airflow or voice for several seconds.
  3. Dysfluencies may come and go but are now present more often than absent.

What to do?

  • Try to model, slow and relaxed speech.
  • Set aside a few minutes each day when you are doing nothing else but listening to your child.
  • When your child talks to you or asks a question, try to pause a second before you answer.  This will help you talking be less hurried.
  • Do not call extra attention to your child’s speech.
  • Make sure your child gets a turn to talk.

If you aren’t sure whether your child is showing these warning signs, get an assessment anyway, something we’re glad to provide here at Marianne P. Sperry & Associates.  Even if treatment isn’t necessary, the speech and language pathologist will be able to analyze your child’s speech and answer your questions.