Fluency refers to the smooth flow of speech. A fluency disorder is characterized by interruptions to the smooth flow of speech.


The most common type of fluency disorder is stuttering, also referred to as stammering. Stuttering is characterized by an abnormally high frequency and/or duration of stoppages in the forward flow of speech. These stoppages usually take the form of:

  • repetitions, of sounds, syllables, and/or words

  • prolongations of sounds

  • "blocks" in airflow or voicing in speech


Stuttering is more prevalent among boys, and its onset usually occurs at ages 2-5. Approximately 33%-66% of children who stutter have a family history of stuttering. Several risk factors for stuttering include:

  • Stuttering present for more than 3 months

  • Persistent stuttering (no cycles of fluency)

  • Family history of stuttering

  • Tension and struggle present

  • Other speech/language problems present

  • Child is less communicative and withdrawn

  • Child is sensitive about stuttering or strong family reactions/fears

  • Child expresses concerns - “I can’t say that” or “Mummy say it for me.”