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Symptom Stuttering Cluttering

What gets stuck Word, sound, syllable Message
vs. Cluttering
Know what want to say? Yes No (or less clear; know but they
get derailed in mazes)

Awareness Typically yes Yes and No

Rate differences Can be a secondary strategy (i.e. person Yes; mandatory for a diagnosis of
who stutters may speak quickly to cluttering (note that rate has to be
avoid stuttering), but is not central to rapid OR irregular, but does not
stuttering itself have to be both)

Disfluences Mostly stuttering-like disfluencies Mostly non-stuttering-like disfluencies

(SLDs), such as repetitions, prolonga- (NSLDs), such as interjections/filler
tions, blocks words, phrases repetitions, revisions

Examples of disfluencies: Repetitions of sounds of syllables: Interjections/filler words: um, uh

y-y-you Phrase repetitions:
wa-wa-watermelon I love, I love NSA
Prolongations: sssso; thiiiis Revisions: I would like ice cream,
Blocks: sound gets stuck and person no, please make that a shake
has difficulty moving forward to next
sound: p---eople Kathleen Scaler Scott, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Articulation difficulties Not in pure stuttering (i.e. stuttering May sound Mushy and Slurred, Speech-Language Pathologist
(i.e. difficulties pronouncing without any additional typically can be corrected by such Board Recognized Fluency Specialist and Mentor
sounds in words) communication disorders) strategies as slowing rate Assistant Professor, Misericordia University
Typically normal May be impacted; especially by change Coordinator, International Cluttering Association
Prosody (i.e. the rhythm and melody
of ones speech) in pausing related to irregular rate
To find out more about the communication
How it sounds Repetitions, prolongations, blocks Rushes of speech; lots of restarts disorder cluttering, visit:

Affective and Can be Negative reactions and

cognitive components communication avoidance have
been identified by consumers

Pragmatics (i.e. social Typically okay A secondary consequence to decreased

aspects of language) communication effectiveness; if
decreased awareness may be more
difficulties here ns
Please note that the highlighted sections are those which are part of the criteria outlined in the cluttering definition described above.
Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved National Stuttering Association 119 W. 40th Street, 14th Floor, Association
New York, NY 10018 Phone: (800) We Stutter (937-8888) Fax: (212) 944-8244 -- Changing the lives of people who stutter
What is Cluttering?
Cluttering is a fluency disorder that is often misunder- b This may also apply to the speakers mastered Arent people with cluttering unaware of
stood. Even more confusing can be the distinction and habitual non-native language, especially in their communication disorder?
between cluttering and stuttering, especially since multilingual living environments.
In many cases, the person with cluttering may be un-
the two commonly co-occur. Researchers have been c This may be true even though syllable rates may not
exceed those of normal speakers. aware. However, the fact that there is an active online
working toward developing an agreed upon definition
support group for cluttering
of cluttering. While some experts believe that language d Synonyms for irregular rate include jerky, or
spurty. ( as
issues are central to the communication disorder of
e These disfluencies are often observed in smaller
well as smaller support groups for cluttering demon-
cluttering, others contend that a person with clutter-
numbers in normal speakers and are typically not strates that lack of awareness is not true for all people.
ing might sound like they have a language disorder
observed in stuttering. Many consumers have reported that they always knew
because they are speaking at a rate that is fast enough
f Collapsing includes, but is not limited to, excessive from the comments of others that something was dif-
to cause the fluency of their message to break down in shortening, telescoping, or over-coarticulating ferent about their communication. Since there is little
some way. To be sure, much more research is needed various syllables, especially in multisyllabic words. awareness among the public about cluttering, consum-
to determine the underlying factors in the speech of
ers received only vague feedback from others about
those with cluttering. What we do know, however, is Can stuttering and cluttering be present in improving their communication skills. Therefore, they
that not all people with cluttering have symptoms in the same person? may be aware that something is amiss, but not aware
areas outside of their speech, such as difficulty with
Yes, these two fluency disorders commonly co-occur. of exactly what.
writing or organizing what they want to say. Therefore,
St. Louis and Schulte (in press) propose a working What is the difference between stuttering I am not sure if I (or my family member,
definition of cluttering that focuses upon the most spe- and cluttering? friend, etc.) has cluttering.
cific aspects of speech that must be present to qualify a What should I do?
While there is some overlap between stuttering and
person with a diagnosis of cluttering. cluttering, there are also distinct differences. The table Because this can be complicated to figure out,
The definition is as follows: below outlines some major differences between clut- contacting a speech-language pathologist with
Cluttering is a fluency disorder wherein segments tering and stuttering. Please note that the highlighted experience with cluttering should be your first step.
of conversationa in the speakers native languageb sections are those which are part of the mandatory Not all therapists who treat stuttering also treat clutter-
typically are perceived as too fast overallc, too criteria outlined in the cluttering definition described ing, but many do have experience in this area, or may
irregulard, or both. The segments of rapid and/or above. The non-highlighted items represent differences be able to guide you to someone in your area
irregular speech rate must further be accompanied that have been reported by those with cluttering who with experience.
by one or more of the following: (a) excessive have been kind enough to share their experiences. I want to find out more about cluttering.
normal disfluenciese; (b) excessive collapsingf Unfortunately, because of confusion about cluttering, Where can I go for more information?
or deletion of syllables; and/or (c) abnormal pauses, many with cluttering are often misdiagnosed with
The International Cluttering Association was founded
syllable stress, or speech rhythm. stuttering. Fortunately, these misdiagnoses are becom-
in May 2007. Part of its mission is to increase aware-
a Cluttering must occur in naturalistic conversation,
ing less common as more information about cluttering
ness and education about the communication disorder
but it need not occur even a majority of the time. Clear emerges. However, lack of understanding is still a
cluttering. Visit its website
but isolated examples that exceed those observed in concern, and much more needs to be done in terms of
( to join the
normal speakers are sufficient for a diagnosis. awareness and education about cluttering.
group for free or simply to browse the wide range of
free resources available on the topic of cluttering.