Speech Impediment in Children: What Is Cluttering?

Speech Impediment in Children: What Is Cluttering?

Winston Churchill

Did Winston Churchill Suffer From Cluttering or Stuttering? (See Answer Below!)

What is cluttering, and how is this different than stuttering? We’ve heard that question many times from readers, so we thought we’d take a moment to explain the speech disorder called cluttering in more detail. Cluttering is a speech and communication disorder that affects a person’s ability to convey speech in a clear and concise manner. It is often characterized by an abnormally rapid rate of speech, difficulty organizing thoughts or getting to the point and words that sound like they are “running into each other.”

What is Cluttering?

Both stuttering and cluttering are categorized as fluency disorders, referring to the rate of speech. Stuttering is the most widely recognized fluency disorders, yet cluttering is in the same category. Unlike stutterers who generally know that they are indeed stuttering, cluttered speakers are often unaware of their difficulties with communication. Sometimes, people with cluttering symptoms are classified as “anxious speakers” and do not seek appropriate treatment. How can you know if your child is cluttering?  Here are a few of the more common symptoms:

  • Repeats part of a sentence
  • Repeats words
  • Has disordered speech
  • Shows difficulty finding words
  • Has spurts of fast talking
  • Talks in spurts

 What Causes Cluttering?

The cause of cluttering is unknown, but like stuttering, there are many possible theories about the origins of cluttering including genetics or atypical brain function. Sometimes prescription medications can cause this disorder. Or, cluttered speech can happen as a result of another disorder. Actor Michael J. Fox experienced cluttered speech in conjunction with his Parkinson’s diagnosis.  People with Fragile X Syndrome also exhibit cluttered speech symptoms.

 Is There A Cure for Cluttering?

There is no cure for cluttering, however, treatment can be very effective depending on the severity of you or your child’s condition. If cluttering speech is the result of prescription medication, cluttered speech should cease after the prescription is finished. If you are noticing your child exhibiting any of the above symptoms, you will want to visit a speech language pathologist who specializes in fluency disorders. Because cluttering can also happen in conjunction with stuttering, an SLP would be able to give your child a detailed evaluation and suggest an individualized speech therapy plan.

 Want More Info?

The National Stuttering Association has a terrific chart that outlines if a symptom is related to stuttering or cluttering. 

Stuttering Help 

***Answer to the Photo Caption Above -Winston Churchill made reference to his “speech impediment”, which he constantly worked to overcome. While many claim he suffered from a lisp and stuttering, he in fact suffered from cluttering.

Parent's Guide to Speech & Communication Challenges
Speech Disorders

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