Stuttering – when speaking becomes difficult


Everyone has speech problems from time to time: You can’t find the right words, you slip up, or you repeat yourself. Stutter is different from these normal "difficulties.

Here you can find out what stuttering is, who you can turn to and how it can be treated.

At a glance

People who stutter have difficulty speaking fluently. This can be mentally stressful and affect everyday life. Often no identifiable cause can be found. Stuttering is largely hereditary.

There are effective procedures to treat stuttering. In the process, affected people learn a new way of speaking or speaking technique. Treatment for stuttering aims to make it easier to speak. It should also help to reduce associated difficulties.

What is stuttering?

People who stutter actually know what they want to say. But it is difficult for them to speak fluently. Therefore one speaks also of a disturbance of the speech flow. Stuttering manifests itself in different ways. Features include:

Repetition of sounds, syllables or words: "Bi Bi Bi Please!" or "Andandand"

Long-drawn sounds: "Aaaaabut"

Blockages: "fortg. ehen"

Fluids occur unintentionally and repeatedly. Affected people usually do not manage to suppress their stuttering. As a result, other conspicuousnesses can be added. Some affected persons move their arms or bodies when speaking. Others breathe differently or whisper to speak more fluently.


Everyday life with stuttering is not always easy. Some people are ashamed or afraid of making a fool of themselves. This can become physically noticeable, for example by blushing or sweating. Often people who stutter try to avoid certain words or situations out of fear.


The most important reason for stuttering is a family predisposition. External influences also play a role.

Some parents blame themselves when their child stutters. They believe that they have done something wrong with their child. That’s not true: there is no evidence for this connection.

Frequency and course

Out of 1 000 children, about 50 start stuttering. It often starts suddenly between the ages of 2 and 6. and 6. year of life. Boys are affected more often than girls. In about three quarters of the children, the disorder disappears by itself. This usually happens within 2 years. Adults can also stutter. About less than 10 in 1,000 are affected. For them, stuttering almost always persists.

Who can I turn to?

In order to detect stuttering at an early stage, pediatricians pay attention to speech during preventive examinations. If you wonder whether your child stutters, you can also contact your pediatrician’s office yourself. There, you can call in professionals from different fields who specialize in stuttering. These come mostly from phoniatrics-paediatrics, child and adolescent psychiatry, speech therapy and speech therapy. One place to go for adults, for example, is the family doctor’s office.

Identify stuttering

To plan the way forward, a conversation is important. In the process, the investigator wants to learn a lot about stuttering. He or she also inquires about feelings, stress, school, training or occupation. Further indications are given by speech tests. Special tests and questionnaires may also be used.


When treatment is needed?
Preschool children do not need to be treated immediately. If the stuttering does not improve after 6 to 12 months, therapy is recommended. Among other things, treatment should be offered immediately if sufferers or family members are suffering greatly.

Which methods are effective?

Procedures in which a completely new way of speaking is trained (speech structuring) have proven to be effective. This is to prevent stuttering from occurring. In addition, there are approaches that are intended to change stuttering directly (stuttering modification). Here, sufferers practice a speech technique to address stuttering events. In addition, they learn to be "critical situations. Both methods can be combined. For children between 3 and 6 years of age, there are separate methods, such as the so-called Lidcombe program or the stuttering program Indirect methods.

Have your treatment team explain the different methods with their advantages and disadvantages to you. Together you can decide what is most appropriate in your case. It is difficult to predict how long a therapy will last. Professionals recommend changing the treatment if after 3 months the stuttering or the accompanying behavior does not improve.

What does not help?

Experts have found no evidence that medication, breathing therapy, homeopathy, hypnosis, relaxation techniques and Bach flower therapy work against stuttering.

Sometimes affected persons are offered procedures that promise quick success and healing for adults in exchange for money. There are no such miracle cures for stuttering.

What you can do yourself

It is important to realize that stuttering is not a mental disorder. No one is to blame either. It can also help if you are open and confident about your stuttering. This can make conversations among friends, at school or at work easier for all sides.

If you yourself or your child are affected:

Be prepared: a long-term effective treatment needs time and your cooperation.

A contact point can also be a self-help group. There you can get information and exchange ideas with others.

If you talk to people who stutter:

Respectful treatment should always be a matter of course in conversation.

Keep eye contact, stay patient, and let a person who stutters finish talking.

Do not try to finish words or sentences.

People who stutter often get advice like "think first" or "speak slowly. These are often well-intentioned. However, they unsettle rather than benefit the affected persons.

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