There are many different types of stuttering, or stuttering behaviors. One child who is stuttering may speak in a very different way to another who is also stuttering! When trying to determine whether or not a child is stuttering, it is helpful to be aware of the different types of stuttering behaviors.
Some of the more common, apparent and well known behaviors include:
Repetitions can occur at different levels in speech, as described below:
sound level – repeating a sound (for example, “c-c-can we go to the park tomorrow?”)
syllable level– repeating a whole syllable (for example, “Can we go to the park tom-tom- tomorrow?”)
word level– repeating an entire word (for example, “Can-can-can we go to the park tomorrow?”)
phrase level– repeating a few words (for example, “Can we go to the-to the- to the park tomorrow?”)
sentence level – repeating the entire sentence (for example, “Can we go to the park tomorrow? Can we go to the park tomorrow?”)
Repetitions such as these can happen anywhere in a sentence or during speech; at the beginning, middle or end of a word for sentence (as demonstrated above). Usually though repetitions occur at the beginning of a sentence and when thinking of stuttering and what it sounds like this is often identifiable to listeners.
Blocking is a form of stuttering that some toddlers and children experience. When they try to talk there is a disruption in the airflow as they speak, which results in them struggling to get the sound out. Blocking typically happens at the beginning of a word.
Prolongations mean that the toddler or child who is stuttering stretches out the sound they are trying to say. As in the case of repetitions prolongations can occur in sounds anywhere in the word (beginning, middle or end) and they also vary in length so the sound might be stretched out just a little or quite a lot! For example “caaaaaaaaan we go to the park tomorrow?”.
Interjections, or ‘fillers’ are words that a toddler or child might be observed to use regularly in their sentences, for example words like “um”. This is of course something that many people do, but in some cases when it is frequent and ‘automatic’ it may be considered to be a form of stuttering.
As well as these types of stuttering in toddlers and children there are also a range of other features or behaviors that are commonly observed. These may be less noticeable to parents and other listeners than the speech difficulties experienced by the child. Some of these include:
trying to avoid particular social interactions or situations where the child might have difficulty speaking
avoiding the use of certain words (the child may recognize that they are difficult for them to pronounce without stuttering)
tension in different parts of the face and / or body when trying to speak
unusual movements accompanying speech. For example the child might blink repetitively or close their eyes when trying to get out a particular word, sound, etc. difficulty with eye contact