Stuttering: Causes & Types

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Stuttering is a very challenging speech disorder that you have probably heard before. In this lesson, we will learn about the different types and causes of stuttering.


Stuttering, or stammering, is a speech disorder that affects over 3 million people in the United States, males more often than females.

Stuttering can be a normal occurrence in young children as they are developing speech skills. Most children outgrow their stutter, but some will go on to have a chronic problem. There are many famous people that have stutters including Marilyn Monroe, a famous Hollywood personality. Joe Biden has a stutter and became the Vice President of the United States. It may be more common than you realize!

A person that stutters knows what they want to say, but it doesn't come out of their mouth easily. You could compare it to the way your car sounds trying to start on a cold morning — it knows how to start, but you keep hearing that repetitive sound until it finally starts up.

Let's take a closer look at different types of stuttering.

Types of Stuttering

There are three common characteristics of stuttering. Stuttering does not necessarily occur all the time or with every word. Anxiety and fear about speaking play a part and can make stuttering worse.


Repetition is one characteristic of stuttering. In this type, you would repeat a letter until you are able to get the rest of the word spoken. If you are trying to say 'dog', it comes out 'd-d-d-dog'. Or another example would be, 'M-m-m-mom, where are my shoes?'


Or you might have trouble with prolongation of sounds. This is when you prolong the sound of a letter until you can speak the remainder of the word. In this type of stutter, saying 'dog' would sound more like 'dddddddog'.

'Mmmmmmmom, where are my shoes?' Can you hear the difference from the first example?


The last type of stutter characteristic involves abnormal stoppages or blocks while speaking. These have no sound and break up words or sentences. If you try to say caterpillar it might come out 'cat---erpillar'. Or it may be a block in a sentence such as, 'Where is the-----------dog?'.

Other Behaviors with Stuttering

You might have unusual movements of your body or face when speaking if you have a stutter. Rapid blinking, tremors of the lips, and clenching of your fist are examples. Stuttering causes anxiety and can lead to social isolation, which can, in turn, make the stutter more apparent. Interestingly, some people that stutter are able to talk to themselves without stuttering.

There are different types of stuttering. The characteristics of the stuttering are the same in each, but the causes are different.

What Causes Stuttering?

Developmental stuttering starts when children are young and beginning to learn speech and language skills. This is the most common type of stuttering. Although the cause isn't clearly defined, a child with developmental delays or other speech or language problems has a higher chance of having a stutter. It was also recently discovered that there are genetic mutations present in children with developmental stuttering.

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