Stuttering Can Be Stopped

Stuttering can be embarrassing and frustrating for many people. If you stutter, you are not alone. In fact, many famous people, like James Earl Jones and John Stossel, stutter.

Stuttering often appears between the ages of 3 and 5 years. But recovery can happen at any age. Up to 80% recover by age 16 years.

What Is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder. It is a disruption in the normal flow of speech. The flow of speech is broken by:

  • Repetition of sounds, words, or phrases
  • Silent pauses between words
  • Stretching out sounds

Speech may also sound like blurting.

Stuttering may be worse in certain situations. Those who stutter often nod, squeeze their fists, and blink their eyes. This happens as they try to force the words out.

Stuttering is often diagnosed by a speech therapist. The speech therapist will:

  • Ask about the stuttering—when, where, and how long it has been happening
  • Ask about a family history of stuttering
  • Listen to the person speak—and check for breaks in the flow of speech
  • Assess the person's language skills
  • Ask how stuttering affects the person's life

What Raises the Risk for Stuttering?

Stuttering is much more common in boys and men. It often starts in young children while they are learning to speak.

Other things that may raise the risk of stuttering are:

  • Having family members who stutter
  • Having other speech or development problems
  • A stroke or brain injury
  • Emotional trauma (rare)

Speech Therapy

Some people who stutter do not need therapy. They recover on their own. It depends on how severe the stuttering is and the person's reaction to it. If you need help, find a speech therapist who can help you refocus how you speak. Keep in mind that early treatment works best. Preschool children tend to have the best results.

Speech therapy works to:

  • Slow down speaking—to improve the flow of speech
  • Improve communication skills, like eye contact and phrasing
  • Reduce fears and avoidance by decreasing stress

So far, medicines have not worked well enough to treat stuttering.

Getting Help

Stuttering interferes with social, work, and family life. People who stutter often avoid speaking situations. They may be teased or bullied. Sometimes stuttering will go away on its own. But professional help is available. The sooner stuttering is treated, the better.


National Stuttering Association
Stuttering Foundation of America


Canadian Stuttering Association
Speech-Language and Audiology Canada


Speech and language disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed November 5, 2021.
Stuttering. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: Accessed November 5,2021.
Stuttering in children. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: Accessed November 5, 2021.
Stuttering.Young Men's Health—Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: Accessed November 5, 2021.
Understanding stuttering. National Stuttering Association website. Available at: Accessed November 5, 2021.
Last reviewed November 5, 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 11/5/2021

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