Normal disfluency

Normal disfluency is stuttering that begins during a child's intensive language-learning years and resolves on its own sometime before puberty. It is considered a normal phase of language development. About 75 out of 100 children who stutter get better without treatment.1

The most common normal disfluency in children younger than age 3 is the repetition of one-syllable words or parts of words, especially at the beginning of sentences ("I-I want that"). After age 3, children with normal disfluencies most often repeat whole words ("You-you-you") or phrases ("I see—I see—I see"). Other problems may include:

  • Hesitation with interjection. ("I played on the ... uh ... swing.")
  • Incomplete sentences with change of focus. ("My bear—the towel is dry.")

Symptoms may occur in phases. There may be periods of days or weeks when they occur frequently, and then almost disappear, only to begin again.

Children with normal disfluencies do not usually have physical symptoms, such as eye-blinking or obvious frustration. They do not try to avoid speaking or seem bothered by their speech; they may not even appear to notice.

Stuttering that follows the pattern of normal disfluency occurs only once in every 10 sentences or less.1 Many parents recognize these symptoms as a normal part of speech development. Parents who become very concerned may be referred to counseling on how to handle their reactions and to help their child improve speech.

Citations

  1. Guitar B, Conture EG (2007). The Child Who Stutters: To the Pediatrician, revised 4th ed. (Publication No. 23). Memphis: Stuttering Foundation of America. Also available online: http://www.stutteringhelp.org/Portals/english/0023tped.pdf.

Last Updated: August 25, 2008

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.