Developing Stutter During Childhood Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1530 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Children

¶ … Stutter during Childhood

Human development is divided into several life-spans and sometimes certain unnatural obstacles inhibit normal growth of human beings. These obstacles may be environmental, genetic, or a combination of both. Attempting or inability to overcome these obstacles may cause numerous psychological problems for those affected. The psychological effects may be especially long-lasting if these obstacles start at the early stage of life. Stuttering is one of the conditions that start during childhood. Researchers and scholars do not have a clear explanation on whether stuttering is a psychological, physiological, or neurological condition, but the symptoms of stuttering are clearly related to numerous psychological disorders. And understanding the development of stuttering during childhood may help psychologists help with potential intervention therapies. Available studies on the causes and treatment of stuttering suggest that stuttering is a complicated condition and that there may be different genetic and/or environmental reasons why children develop stuttering.

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A common definition of stuttering states that it is a "speech that is characterized by frequent repetition or prolongation of sounds or syllables or words, or by frequent hesitation or pauses that disrupt the rhythmic flow of speech" (Reddy & Sharma, 2010, p. 49). Sometimes, struggling with stuttering involves tensions or facial contortions and long pauses as people try to "get the words out." Stuttering does not have anything to do with the person's character, intelligence, or natural talent. It affects a whole range of people, from all backgrounds and professions. It is a universal speech concern, mentioned in the Bible, referencing the speech patterns of Moses, and it was a problem for such scientists as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, British political leader Winston Churchill, and the celebrity figure Marilyn Monroe.

Term Paper on Developing Stutter During Childhood Assignment

It should be noted that some of the complicated symptoms and characteristics of stuttering still remain a puzzle to researchers and scholars. For instance, some stutters can easily whisper without any complications or be unaffected by stuttering while singing or speaking in unison. Others can speak fluently to certain individuals, to pets, young children, or when talking to themselves. Some stutterers can read without any problems but stutter when having conversations. Likewise, some stutterers may suffer from its symptoms during private conversations but fluently deliver public lectures. To the contrary, others stutter when speaking in public but can speak without any obstacles one-to-one. For such people, communication pressures may worsen their conditions. For some stutters, it is an episodic occurrence, "coming and going by with little or no difficulty speaking, followed by a reappearance or worsening of the stutter" ("Stuttering: Why and when," 1997, p.1). The varieties of such symptoms make it extremely hard to pinpoint the exact causes of the development of stuttering.

Available data from studies across the world shows that left-handers are more likely to be stutters than right-handers and male stutterers significantly outnumber females. Though generally the worldwide the sex ratio is 2 to 1 (Howell, Davis, & Williams, 2008), in a country like Canada there are four male stutterers to every female one ("Stuttering: Why and when," 1997). Researchers generally agree that stuttering mostly develops in the pre-school stage of childhood. For many, it comes and goes between the ages of two and seven, peaking at ages from three to four, and around eighty percent of them outgrow stuttering before the age of six. Severity among children and at different ages differs considerably, and at the very early stage of stuttering children may not even realize that they suffer from its symptoms. When they start realizing that they are not able to speak as fluently as other kids, and especially if their family members or other kids tease and laugh at them, they hesitate even more and their conditions may worsen (ibid).

The evidence also suggests that there may be a combination of factors that cause stuttering ("Stuttering: Facts and information," n.d.). These may include genetics, as most stutterers have a family member or two who also stutter; developmental anxieties, as children's rapid growth of cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and communication skills may overpressure them, sometimes leading to stuttering (this is also one of the reasons why stuttering mostly begins at the pre-school years); and environmental factors such as the stress and anxiety that children go through because of social events or parental expectations and attitudes (Duckworth, n.d.). Until recently, many lay people and even doctors thought that stuttering could be cured through environmental factors, suggesting that all stuttering children needed was to be more confident and overcome their "shyness." But the latest studies strongly suggest that the lack of confidence rather stems from the stuttering condition, but not cause it. Scholars also argue that stuttering is a neurological symptom and that environmental factors may only contribute, positively or negatively, to the existing symptom ("Stuttering: Why and when," 1997, p. 2).

Interestingly, throughout history a variety of theories were proposed to explain the stuttering phenomenon. Ancient Greeks believed that it was related to the dryness of tongue. The idea that the roots of the stuttering problem were located in the tongue persisted until recently. In the nineteenth century, believing that stuttering was related to abnormalities of the speech apparatus, doctors subjected stutterers to "plastic" surgeries, leading to additional disabilities, or tongue-weights and mouse prostheses. In the twentieth century, scholars began to view stuttering as a psychogenetic abnormality, subjecting stutterers to psychoanalytic and behavioral therapies. Many of these theories were challenged in the second half of the twentieth century since the theory suggesting that stuttering stemmed from solely environmental factors could not be sustained. It is generally agreed now that stuttering is probably a neurological problem, whereas environmental factors play a secondary role. That is, the environment may worsen the condition and guided parental therapies may prevent stuttering from persistence into adulthood, while the root causes of stuttering should be investigated with the help of neuroscience. (Buchel & Sommer, 2004).

Psychoanalytical perspectives nevertheless are very important for understanding -- and developing intervention therapies for -- childhood stuttering. Some psychoanalysts even warn that exclusively focusing on biological causes of stuttering is misguided. They note that there are many cases when extremely agonizing experiences led to stuttering among some children. In such cases, it is possible that the predisposition to stuttering, even if it is a genetic inheritance, is triggered and activated through social change or changes that affect these children psychologically. "There is abundant research evidence for a biological predisposition for stuttering; however, environmental stressors, such as family relations, can produce internal psychological conflicts that cause stuttering, possibly in combination with this predisposition," says Peter Wolson, a psychoanalyst.

Klaniczay (2000), a psychotherapist who worked with over 150 stuttering children, discusses numerous cases when extreme anxieties or stress triggered or worsened conditions of stuttering. She was able to diagnose psychological factors by communicating with children's parents and through therapies she used to treat them. Klaniczay found ways to relax these children and it helped. For example, a three-year-old child stutterer was able to speak fluently after clinging to her for a while. She found out that three stuttering children had initially developed skin eruptions or furuncles because their parents had tied down their hands at night to prevent self-scratching. Klaniczay specifically observed how so many stuttering children had troubling relationships with their mothers. Observation of these troubling mother-child relationships and attempts of children to overcome their frustration or sense of insecurity through clinging made Klaniczay conclude that "frustration of the need to cling to the mother was the underlying determinant in the development of stuttering" (Klaniczay, 2000, p. 101). These case studies demonstrate that children's psychosocial environment may play a crucial role for both development and treatment of stuttering.

In sum, searching for the causes of stuttering in children requires that therapists look for a variety of factors. They may be biological, emotional-psychological,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Developing Stutter During Childhood" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Developing Stutter During Childhood.  (2012, March 5).  Retrieved October 30, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Developing Stutter During Childhood."  5 March 2012.  Web.  30 October 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Developing Stutter During Childhood."  March 5, 2012.  Accessed October 30, 2020.