What is the Difference Between Stuttering and Stammering?

What is the Difference Between Stuttering and Stammering?

Both the words “stutter” and “stammer” are used to describe the disfluency of speech. Many people wonder if there is a difference between the two and if so what the difference(s) is.

The fact is, there are only two ways that these terms are different, one is the difference in the spelling of the word and the other is the region in which they are used. “Stammer” is a British term, whereas “stutter” is a North American term. At some point during the 1960s, stutter took over for stammer and since then has been used as the primary word to refer to an issue of speech fluency. 

If you are experiencing frustration due to stuttering, stammering, or fluency in general, it’s important to get the help you need. Click here to schedule a free introductory call with Great Speech. This way, you will know you are addressing your stutter in the most effective way available with our online speech therapy program.

What is a Stutter?

Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects the flow of speech and can also be referred to as dysfluency. The signs and symptoms of stuttering typically include repetitions of words or parts of words and/or lengthening or prolongations of words. Sometimes there is overuse or repetition of the words “um” or “uh,” which can make it difficult to communicate effectively or hold a conversation. People with a stutter know the words that they want to say, however they struggle to get the words out.

Stuttering usually appears in childhood and if left without treatment, could persist into adulthood. In fact, between 5 and 10 percent of children are affected by a stutter at some point. While the exact root cause of stuttering is unknown, recent research has shown that genetics or certain emotional or traumatic life events might contribute to the development of a stutter. Studies have confirmed that stuttering is more common in boys and that there is no link or correlation between stuttering and intelligence.

Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects the fluency or flow of speech. Some of the most common signs of a stutter are: 

  • Involuntary Repetition of one sound, syllable, or word in a sentence
  • Elongating certain sounds 
  • Long pauses, hesitations, or involuntary blocks between words in sentences
  • Particular difficulty speaking in public or in social situations
  • Facial tension or lip tremors 
  • Frustration or anxiety when unable to get out a particular sound, word, or sentence, despite being able to formulate the words and sounds in the brain
  • Manipulating and rewording sentences to avoid saying words that are difficult or challenging

While stutters are more common among children, it isn’t uncommon for stutters to continue into adulthood especially without support or intervention. A history of stutters in one’s family can increase the likelihood of developing a stutter themselves. 

What is the Root Cause of Stuttering?

While there is no one exclusive known cause of stuttering, most research suggests that there are multiple factors that can contribute to the development of a stutter. 

Genetics: Studies have shown that children with a direct relative with a stutter are three times more likely to develop a stutter themselves. There have also been studies with twins and adopted children that show that genetics must interact with environmental factors in order for a stutter to occur.

Neurological Differences: Research has shown that stutters are more likely to develop in children who have another speech/language delay, motor or learning challenges, or a developmental disability.

Emotionally Traumatic Events: In some cases, a stutter will emerge after an emotionally traumatic event. Often stress and anxiety can play a role in stuttering and can worsen the problem. 

How can I Help Someone with a Stutter? How do I stop my Child from Stammering?

For many, the effects or impacts of living with a stutter on their emotional and mental state can be significant and profound.

Children with a stutter are often victims of bullying, exclusion, and other hurtful behaviors from others. They often feel ostracized and ashamed, which can result in these children shutting down or closing themselves off. The development of stress, anxiety, shame, or feelings of not being in control are all very common in children who stutter. Left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to the presence of chronic anxiety, nervousness, or stress. Feeling incapable or inept at communicating and socializing in an effective and meaningful way can have drastic impacts on the self-esteem and self-image of children and adults. It can also have major impacts on their cognitive and social development.

Seeking support and guidance and advocating for these children is paramount to ensuring they have a healthy and well-rounded life and sense of self. 

Practicing patience and understanding when interacting with someone who stutters is deeply important. Allow them the time and space they need to communicate their message. Do your best to make them feel heard and understood, and be mindful not to draw attention or make them feel “less than” for their manner of speaking.

Above all, do what you can to help someone with a stutter to find support, as in many cases with effective treatment and guidance, a stutter can be improved, reversed, or eliminated completely. 

If you or a person you love doesn’t feel confident communicating because of a stutter, it’s important to seek the support of a licensed speech pathologist.

Speech pathologists are trained professionals who can help you communicate without the limitations that stuttering can cause. The first step to connecting to one of our experienced online speech therapists is to book a free introductory phone call by clicking here. Don’t wait to get started in your speech therapy program, help is available.

How Can Virtual Speech Therapy Help?

For many people, without treatment, stuttering is not something they will outgrow.

Early professional intervention is an essential part of supporting someone who is struggling with a stutter. Most treatment and intervention is “behavioral.” This means that after an evaluation, the speech therapist teaches specific behaviors or skills that lead to improved speech fluency and oral communication. For some clients, being taught to monitor or control the rate or pace at which they speak is incredibly helpful. For others receiving instruction related to breathing at a rhythmic pace is beneficial. For many people, using music and singing has been found to be an effective treatment for stuttering as well.

For many families, the use of telepractice in speech therapy has been an incredibly effective resource in the treatment of stuttering, in both children and adults. If you or someone you love is struggling with a stutter, help, and support is available. Schedule a free introductory call today and get started on your journey to clearer speech and increased confidence with our online speech therapy program. 


online speech therapy contact us button