Stuttering in Adults


ICD-10 Code: F98.5

Stuttering (also called onset fluency disorder) is part of a cluster of diagnoses called communication disorders. Communication disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:

  • Language Disorder
  • Speech Sound Disorder
  • Childhood-onset and Adult-Onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering)
  • Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder

A communication disorder is the impairment in the processes of speech, language or communication. Speech is the expressive production of sounds and includes an individual’s articulation, fluency, voice and resonance quality. Language includes the form, function, and use of a convention system of symbols (i.e., spoken words, written words, sign language, pictures) in a rule-governed manner for communication. Communication includes any verbal or nonverbal behavior that influences the behavior, ideas, or attitudes of another individual. An adult with a communication problem may exhibit many different symptoms. These may include difficulty following directions, attending to a conversation, pronouncing words, perceiving what was said, expressing oneself, or being understood because of a stutter or a hoarse voice. An assessment of speech, language and communication abilities must take into account the individual’s cultural and language context, particularly for individuals growing up in bilingual environments.

What is Stuttering?

The cumulative incidence of stuttering affects approximately 2% of adults between the ages of 21 and 49, and less than 2% of adults ages 50 and over. The disorder is characterized by disturbances in normal fluency and time patterning of speech that are inappropriate for the individual’s age and language skills,

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Understanding Stuttering

The frequency and severity of stuttering may fluctuate from day to day and in relation to the speaking situation. Stuttering is often more severe when there is increased pressure to communicate (e.g., competing for talk time, giving an oral presentation).

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How is stuttering treated?

Stuttering is treatable. Interventions recommendations for stuttering are outlined in the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

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