The Prevalence of Childhood Stuttering
We have seen that stuttering is a very common childhood neurosis, especially in male children. Approximately one third of boys who come to the dispensary suffer from it due to neurotic problems. At the age of 6-15, stuttering occurs in an average of 2.3% of male and 0.8% of female students in the city, and in 2.6% of male and 1.0% of female students in rural areas.
The Mechanics of Stuttering: Spasms of the Speech Organs
The essence of stuttering is spasms of the muscles of the speech organs – mostly the mouth, jaw, tongue – which interfere with the normal flow of speech. These cramps are partly tonic in nature (spasms) and partly clonic cramps. In the first case, the child’s lips and jaws twitch when he wants to say something, and only after a while, just explosively, under strong air pressure from the respiratory organs, he manages to produce a voice. In the second case, the muscles of the lips and jaw work in a fast rhythm, performing the same voice or syllable several times. Both types of cramps are regularly combined, so the child strains for an hour to overcome the spasm, inadvertently repeats the same syllable for an hour and cannot immediately say the whole word. With spasms on the mouth, breathing becomes irregular, it is intermittent, the child does not breathe enough air, he tries to utter a thought when he has almost run out of breath, and this increases his speech difficulties.
Stuttering as a Neurosis: No Organic Causes
Stuttering is a neurosis. This means that no organic causes in the respiratory area should be sought for this disorder. In children who stutter, various pathological changes can often be found on these organs, such as enlarged tonsils, nasal polyps, deformity of the nasal septum, and the like, but this does not mean that any of these anomalies have a causal connection with stuttering. Such changes are very common in children who do not stutter and who stutter, so it has nothing to do with speech neurosis.
The Psychological Basis of Stuttering: Fear of One’s Own Speech
The psychological basis of stuttering is the fear of one’s own speech. Stuttering is a typical neurosis of anticipation. Even before the child starts talking, he is afraid that he will stutter. It thinks about the individual words it must use when answering at school, shopping, reciting and similar occasions, fixates on certain “difficult” voices that it will probably not be able to utter, and thus begins to speak deeply convinced of the failure of its performance. Then his speech is so burdened with negative emotions, attention is so concentrated on the technique of speech that failure is quite certain. It happens exactly what the child is most afraid of: it stutters. This discourages him even more, so the next attempt at speech begins with even greater fear, that is, even more strongly convinced that he will get stuck in speech again and be ashamed. It is a vicious circle of stuttering that sustains and intensifies this neurosis.
The Vicious Circle of Stuttering
In conclusion, stuttering is a common childhood neurosis that affects mainly male children. It is characterized by spasms of the speech organs, which interfere with the normal flow of speech. Stuttering has no organic causes, and the psychological basis of stuttering is the fear of one’s own speech. This fear creates a vicious circle of stuttering, sustaining and intensifying this neurosis. It is important to seek professional help to treat stuttering, which can have a significant impact on the child’s emotional and social development. With appropriate intervention and support, children with stuttering can learn to manage their symptoms and develop effective communication skills.