• Where Does Stuttering Come From?

    Posted on October 2, 2012 by in Podcast Episodes


    In this episode I interview Dr. Lisa LaSalle from the University of Redlands in Redlands California. She teaches the stuttering course and supervises students who are seeing clients with fluency disorders. In addition, she was my stuttering course professor at Syracuse University…how does she do both? you will just have to listen. During this episode we talk about the overall cause of stuttering and we respond to some audio feedback that I recently received. Enjoy!




7 responses so far.

  1. Brian W says:

    Great show Evan!

    Emmmm… I think stuttering is a habit. I checked out the online dictionary, “(Psychology) Psychol a learned behavioural response that has become associated with a particular situation, esp one frequently repeated” http://www.thefreedictionary.com/habit

    Evan, I don’t think we could compare the habit of smoking to stuttering though.. to give up smoking you just stop buying the cigarettes.. sorted. Ok you may climb up the wall trying to get over an addiction though. ha! ha!

    I think from the onset of stuttering, age 4 onwards for many it becomes a habit, but in later years if speech isn’t self corrected, the stutter can manifest itself into bringing about other problems such as phobias, like panic attacks in certain speaking situations, again just learned behavioural responses.

    • Evan Sherman says:

      If stuttering was a habit, why cant we kick the habit… Being scared is a learned behavioral response. If we have a bad experience with a spider and from then on we are scared of spiders…are you saying that we are scared because of habit?

      • Brian W says:

        From what I’ve been reading 5% of children stutter, 4% manage to grow out of stuttering which leaves 1% for the adult population. I think habits are very easy to develop, particularly so for young children ages 3-5 developing speech. So if a 3-5 yr old is experiencing disfluences, I think it’s very easy for this to develop into a habit. Yes, 4% grow out of stuttering but 1% still find it very difficult to get over the habits formed and re-connect with confident fluent speech.

        Habits are usually not easy to quit, especially if the habit has been practiced for many years. To get over a habit an adult would need to exert a lot of will power. Not just that, the speech may have gotten so mentally corrupted that the principles of achieving fluent speech would need to be explained, despite the fact most pws do speak fluently at times. In saying this, fluency is only a small part of speech, a part of the overall speaking skills set up.

        I think stuttering it’s just purely psychological.

        spiders… some things are true in one direction only, not always conversely true, so being scared of something doesn’t necessarily form a habit 🙂

        • Evan Sherman says:

          What about late onset stuttering?….stuttering which starts in teens or adulthood. What about neurogenic stuttering, is that purely psychological? Remember neurogenic stuttering is caused by brain trauma. What about all of the brain activation studies. PWS show activation in the basal ganglia, more so than those who do not stutter. How does this support your psychological theory.

    • Evan Sherman says:

      Brian, btw did u listen to the whole episode with Dr. LaSalle?

  2. I agree with Evan If stuttering was a habit “learned from childhood”. we would have already stopped it. I used to bite my nails in childhood. A habit I picked up from a cousin. I eventually kicked it.

    Besides, what about the latest research showing that stuttering is a genetic thing? And not to forget what Dr. LaSalle talked about in this episode.

    • Brian W says:

      Daniele, Not all habits are easy to give up. I’d think biting your nails in childhood is probably an example of an easier habit to give up… maybe you were made aware at some point that biting your nails wasn’t a ‘cool’ thing to do ha! ha! You were able to be assisted visually to restrict the physical action. Habits like stuttering, where speech is controlled by the mind , I think is a more difficult habit to overcome which involves a lot of will power and often needs additional education in speech.

      Evan, I’ve listened to podcast about 3 times now I realise using the word ‘pure’ is a poor choice of word, nothing is ever 100%. Nevertheless I still feel that our ability to control something by thoughts is very powerful. In my own experience, I now feel my stutter is psychological because when I stutter I can almost immediately stop stuttering and through correct thought processes speak fluently. If there was something physically wrong with me, I don’t think this would be possible. However, that’s not to say there could be a defect with my speech delivery system, through a neurological abnormality, possibly caused by inherited genetics, Speech can still be controlled psychologically meaning that I’ve had to concentrate that bit harder for fluent speech. Same applies in reverse, if I expect to stutter it’s very easy to set myself up. Again, it’s all in the mind.

      The research:-
      Interesting to hear that the age of onset has been clearly defined now as being between ages 2-4 (in particular around 33 months). However, when I look on the forums, the average age seems to be 7.

      It appears to me that only observations have been made, that being 70% linked to genetic reasons. It would be good to hear if specific chromo zones can be identified and directly linked to stuttering. I still don’t hear of any evidence being said that this is the confirmed cause of stuttering. The identical twins observation was interesting though.

      I just feel that the way research is going here it will only ever achieve identifying those children who are susceptible to stuttering.

      In the case of late onset stuttering, I would think that a normal speech delivery system didn’t exist prior and because of this stuttering can be developed through lazy speech and bad timing along with the develping habit. Neurologic stuttering observed after some traumatic event is an area I’m happy to leave to the researchers for now, just too many possible factors.

      Please understand peoples, I do all my thinking from the comfort of my armchair lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *