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1. A disruption in the fluency of speech in which those affected repeat letters or syllables, pause or hesitate abnormally, or fragment words when attempting to speak. The symptoms are exaggerated during times of stress and may also be worsened by some medications, some strokes, or other diseases and conditions. Stuttering often occurs in more than one family member.
SYN: SEE: stammering
This condition occurs in approx. 1% to 2% of the school population. Boys are affected three or four times as often as girls. The onset is in two periods: between the ages of 2 and 4 years when speech begins and between 6 and 8 years of age when the need for language increases. It usually resolves spontaneously by adulthood.
Therapies, including relaxation techniques, hypnosis, delayed auditory feedback, and medications such as haloperidol can provide some help.
Educational materials are available from the Stuttering Foundation of America (800-992-9392) and from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (800-638-8255).
2. Periodic interruption in a bodily function.