How to support someone who stutters

Stuttering is a speech problem that predominantly affects children. It is characterised by repeated, prolonged or blocked sounds, syllables, words or phrases.

If you or a loved one is starting to stutter, you may need to consult a speech pathologist. To get you started, we’ve created this guide on the defining traits of stuttering, how to support someone who stutters – and when to refer to a professional.

Is it stuttering?

We all have moments where we stumble over our words. But if it’s happening frequently, it might be stuttering.

Here are the key characteristics of stuttering:

Repeating sounds, syllables, words and phrases

Inability to produce target and non-target sounds

Prolonging sounds, syllables, words and phrases

Combinations of the above

The following can also be present:

Pauses or hesitations

Changes in breathing patterns

Word avoidance

Inserting other sounds, words or phrases

Pitch and volume changes

Secondary symptoms associated with stuttering include:

Inappropriate eye contact

Facial distortions

Increased body movement and tension

When to see a speech pathologist

Many children produce some minor dysfluency as their speech and language develops, especially between ages 2-5. For most children, this is a normal stage of development usually demonstrated by simple repetitions of sounds at the beginning of words.

Seek help from a speech pathologist if:

Your child is frustrated or embarrassed by their stuttering

Your child is elongating sounds

Your child is blocking (withholding air) when attempting sounds and words

There are periods of significant stuttering

Secondary behaviours develop, such as eye closing or face twitching, during stuttering

The stuttering continues for 6-8 weeks

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us for an assessment on