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Stammering and tachyphrasia

Definition

Stammering and tachyphrasia belong to the disorders of oral fluency. Both are disorders which prevent the flow of speaking by repetition, interruption, pausing and insertion.

Cause

The reason for stammering or tachyphrasia, a certain rumbling of words, is still not completely identified to this day. It is certain, however, that genetic and neurological factors play a leading role in causing such disruptions. Stammering mostly occurs in several members of a family, which leads to think that a disposition can be hereditary. Which kind and to which degree it is passed on is yet unknown. On the neurological level, structural changes and a weak activation of the centre for speech production have been detected.

Symptoms

Stammering, core symptoms

  • Repetition of vowels (i.e. a-a- apple), or syllables (i.e. rea-rea- really) and words (i.e. the the the)
  • stretching of vowels (i.e. aaaaaaapple)
  • blockages of articulation, breathing and voice production (voice is pressed)

Tachyphrasia, core symptoms

  • heightened rate of speaking
  • elisions (vowels melt, i.e. football becomes “fooball”)
  • vowel changes, vowel replacement
  • stretching, sentence apruption, repetition
  • interjection (frequent fillers) Interjektionen

Accompanying symptoms for stammering and tachyphrasia

  • fear of speaking
  • behavior of avoidance by exchanging of words, descriptive use of language, sentence restructuring and sentence abortion
  • avoiding certain situations (i.e. speaking on the phone, participation in school)
  • changed mimic (i.e. cramping of the facial musculature)
  • changed gesticulation (strange head-, arm and leg movement)
  • vegetative reactions (i.e. sweating, heightened heart rate)
  • disruption of the breathing and vocal production

Course

Stammering most likely appears within the early childhood (until 6 years of age). Boys happen to be 5 times more likely to be affected than girls.

During puberty the pathology of the stammering changes and can even improve.

Treatment

A complete healing or an absolutely symptom free speaking experience in all situations is very hard and almost impossible to attain. The first step as always is a proper initial consultation. The following exercises need to be extremely individual and most suited for each patient. In addition, it is essential to support the patient with psychosocial exercises in order to strengthen the self confidence and to better cope with the condition.

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