Explaining Why Some People Stutter

Stuttering is a form of expression that gives the world diversity.
National Stuttering Association Board Member Pamela Mertz, who is someone who stutters, explains the facts about stuttering. www.westutter.org

People inherit a lot from their parents: money, eye color, homes, yes, even a sense of humor for some. But could people also inherit certain other behaviors from their parents?

My dad was a stutterer. He seemed to pass this stuttering disability to his children. My brother and sister continue to stutter from time to time, sentence to sentence, and thought to thought. Through training and therapy, I seemed to have lost – for the most part – vestiges of my stuttering.

According to the Mayo Clinic, stuttering otherwise known as stammering is a disability that affects the patterns of speech and may have its roots in childhood development. Stuttering is common among young children as a normal part of learning to speak. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren’t developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow this developmental stuttering.

For others, they may carry the condition and the stigma into adulthood. On average, 3 million Americans suffer from stuttering, according to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NICDC).

  • It occurs most often in children between the ages of 2 and 6 as they are developing their language skills.
  • Approximately 5 to 10 percent of all children will stutter for some period in their life, lasting from a few weeks to several years.
  • Boys are 2 to 3 times as likely to stutter as girls and as they get older this gender difference increases; the number of boys who continue to stutter is three to four times larger than the number of girls. Most children outgrow stuttering.
  • Approximately 75 percent of children recover from stuttering. For the remaining 25 percent who continue to stutter, stuttering can persist as a lifelong communication disorder.


One stutterer describes her speech disorder this way:

“The emotions and feelings related to stuttering range from sadness, anger, and frustration to helplessness and hopelessness. “Talk slowly,” “think about what you are going to say” – these are some of the common pieces of advice I have received over the years, and I wish they worked, but they don’t.”

There may be hope for people who stutter if caught early in their development. The National Stuttering Association advises when potential stuttering is identified in a child, the parent or guardian of the child should be referred to a speech-language pathologist for treatment.

According to the NSA, there is no cure for stuttering in adulthood. There may be methods for reducing disfluency, while others may focus on accepting their condition and reducing the anxiety and stigma of a stutterer.

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