Stuttering in Children and Adolescents

ICD-10 Code: F80.81

Childhood onset fluency disorder (stuttering) 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 Fluency Disorder (Stuttering)
  • Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder

A communication disorder is an 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. A child 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?

Approximately 1.6% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 years of age are diagnosed with childhood onset fluency disorder (stuttering). The onset of symptoms typically occurs by age 6 for 80%-90% of affected individuals.

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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 a report at school).

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How is stuttering treated?

Childhood onset fluency disorder is treatable. Interventions recommendations for childhood onset fluency disorder are outlined in the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  

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