Stuttering (dysphemia): Symptoms, Types, Causes And Treatment

Communication is an essential aspect of being human. It allows us to connect with our peers, share experiences and ideas.

Among the different mechanisms we have for this, oral language is one of the ones we use the most, and its learning is one of the aspects to which we dedicate the most time during our development. Since it is a skill that has to be trained progressively, it is common for difficulties to arise as we master it.

But in some cases these difficulties may be indicating the presence of a communication disorder of greater or lesser severity. One of these disorders is stuttering, or dysphemia..

Stuttering or dysphemia: a fluency disorder

Stuttering or dysphemia is a communication disorder based on alterations in language fluency. It is a disorder that generally originates in childhood, and in which there are no problems in the ability to speak or in the subject’s competence with it, but rather in its implementation. This problem is not due to diseases, neurological problems or sensory or intellectual deficits.

The most visible symptom is the existence of repetitions of words or parts of words during speech, as well as blocking and prolongation of sounds. Speech becomes not very fluent and interrupted. In some cases, circumlocutions are used in a way that alters the structure of the sentences to prevent the perception of the problem in fluency.

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This is a problem linked to social speech, since stuttering only appears in the presence of an interlocutor, not existing in subvocal speech or when the subject is alone. In this way, it can be seen that there is an affective component related to dysphemia.

The child or even adult experience all these difficulties with a high level of anxiety, due to the perception of difficulties as something inappropriate and shameful. Feelings of abnormality or inferiority may arise. In fact, in some cases it can cause a high level of social withdrawal and even refusal to speak.

Likewise, this anxiety tends to cause a higher level of repetitions and interruptions in speech, so that a vicious circle can be established between anxiety and communication problems. It is therefore a disorder that can cause a serious impact on the subject and his communication and social development.

Dysphemia is a communication disorder that becomes chronic in some cases, although in a large number of cases it can remit completely or partially if it is treated correctly and does not become chronic.

Types of stuttering

Stuttering or dysphemia is a problem that can present in different forms, depending on the type of fluency alteration that occurs. Specifically, Three subtypes of stuttering are usually identified.

1. Tonic dysphemia

This is a subtype of stuttering in which the problem is the existence of a crash when starting the speechsuffering a spasm when starting the conversation that after intense effort allows expression.

2. Clonic dysphemia

This subtype of stuttering is characterized by the presence of mild muscle contractions that cause the repetition of sounds or entire syllables during speech.

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3. Mixed dysphemia

It is a combination of the previous two, appearing initial difficulties when starting the speech and repetitions derived from involuntary muscle contractions.

Origin of this disorder

The causes of stuttering or fluency disorder have often been explored and discussed, and today the majority opinion is that the etiology of this communication disorder It is found in both biological and environmental factors. It has been observed that there are psychological factors of great relevance for its appearance and maintenance, but the presence of alterations in brain functioning has also been speculated and analyzed.

Regarding biological and constitutional aspects, stuttering has been linked to the result of competing activity between the cerebral hemispheres during development. Many people who stutter have a dominance of the right hemisphere when it comes to language, and it has been proven that they have a slight lapse between the time it takes to decide to speak and the motor response that allows it. Also exist abnormalities in the arcuate fasciculusa brain region linked to language.

On the other hand, at a more psychological and environmental level, the presence of conditioning can be observed in these children and adults, due to the repercussions in the form of ridicule or recriminations regarding their difficulties. This causes the presence of a high level of anxiety and frustration if you are not able to correct it, which in turn will generate less fluidity and an accentuation of the difficulties. Although it is not considered the cause of the problem, it can maintain and make the problem chronic.

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Aspects to take into account when dealing with a case

Speech fluency can be trained in a way that greatly reduces the presence of stuttering. Speech therapy can be of great help, especially if applied with programs that reduce the need to speed up speech (due to the anticipation of problems, many subjects tend to speed up their speech, which usually causes them to make mistakes) and the level of tension and anxiety.

It’s important to put attention on the presence of ridicule and criticism can be harmful, since they encourage an increase in the subject’s tension and a more than likely worsening of their communication. The same thing happens if you try to pressure them to speak or complete the sentences for them (an error that many members of the environment often make).

In fact, as mentioned above, self-esteem can decrease and cause the subject to become withdrawn and inhibited, avoiding social participation and emotional bonding with other people. This contributes to the disorder worsening and becoming chronic. Family and social support, and the perception of this by the subject, is very important.

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