What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a disruption to the flow of speech. The World Health Organisation defines it as a 'disorder in the rhythm of speech, in which the individual knows precisely what he wishes to say, but at the time is unable to say it because of an involuntary, repetitive prolongation or cessation of a sound'.

What causes stuttering?

There is no known underlying cause for stuttering.  Stuttering is most likely due to some problem with the neural processing (brain activity) that underlies speech production.  Stuttering is not thought to be caused by psychological factors such as nervousness or stress, or parenting practices or the way parents communicate with their children when they are young.  However, psychological factors such as anxiety or stress can make suttering worse.  Stuttering has a genetic link and affects three times as many boys as girls.

You may hear or see the following behaviours in a child who is stuttering:

  • repeating sounds, part-words and words
  • Stretching or sounds
  • Struggling to get words out
  • Avoiding particular words, situations or talking in general
  • Inappropriate pausing
  • Frustration with the effort of talking
  • Physical signs of effort (e.g. facial grimacing and eye-blinking).

Many young children have speech that includes ‘disfluencies’, such as repetitions of words.  It is also true that a stutter can sometimes disappear without any treatment. 


The most widely accepted and recommended treatment for children with stuttering is the Lidcombe program.The Lidcombe program is a parent-based program which is most effective for preschool and early primary school-aged children.  The program focuses on reinforcement and rewards and requires that the parents spend time each day talking with their child.

The Lidcombe program promotes fluent speech while maintaining and developing a child's confidence in speaking.

Contact us for more information.

The Australian Stuttering Research Centre website also contains information about stuttering.