What is a Cluttering Disorder?
Cluttering in speech is a fluency disorder that is characterized by an irregular or rapid rate of speech, uncontrolled disfluencies, and in some cases other symptoms such as phonological or language errors and challenges related to attention.
Individuals who use cluttered speech can be very difficult to understand and produce speech that may sound disjointed, jerky, or overly fast. They may also exhibit uneven or irregular pauses and varying speeds of speech without apparent cause. In some cases, secondary symptoms can be present such as difficulty organizing thoughts and expressing them verbally, omitting certain words or sounds within words, and the presence of irregular intonation or pitch. If you or someone you love is struggling with a cluttering disorder, speech therapy offers the best care and support. Get started with Great Speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What are the Symptoms of Cluttered Speech?
How do you tell if someone has cluttered speech? Here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for as your child grows and develops in their speech and language skills:
- Your child often seems unsure about what they want to say
- They may prolong the words they aren’t saying appropriately all of a sudden
- Their speech doesn’t sound fluent or smooth but they don’t appear to struggle or make physical efforts when speaking
- Excessive use of unnecessary filler words, sounds, or revisions
- Slurred speech or omission of some syllables
- An irregular rate of speech, sporadic pauses, speaking either too fast or too slow, or blurting out words
Even if you have observed all of these symptoms in your child, a thorough and accurate evaluation and diagnosis by an experienced speech and language pathologist is crucial before beginning any treatment.
What is the Difference Between Cluttering and Stuttering?
Cluttered speech or cluttering is a relatively unknown and rare condition related to speech that can often be mistaken for stuttering. In some cases, cluttering and stuttering occur simultaneously in an individual, which can make identifying the differences between the two even more difficult.
Stuttering, which is also referred to as a stammer or speech disfluency, is a speech disorder in which the individual will repeat individual syllables, words, and sounds or sometimes prolong specific sounds. A stutter can also involve frequent interruptions when speaking, which are referred to as blocks. Those who stutter know what they wish to communicate but have difficulty producing speech that flows in a typical way. Stuttering is generally a more common disorder than cluttering and is something almost every person has experienced at one point or another, especially as young children who are developing mature speech patterns.
Cluttering speech also includes frequent interruptions to the flow of speech, but also typically involves disfluency elements such as revisions, interjections, and repetitions. Someone who struggles with cluttered speech is also less likely to be aware that there is a problem related to the fluency of their speech. Cluttering also usually affects the rhythm and melody of speech, which stuttering does not. If you are concerned about the development of your child’s speech abilities, contact us at Great Speech by scheduling your free introductory call today!
Why Does Cluttering Happen? What Causes Cluttered Speech?
While there are no specific known causes of cluttering speech disorder, there are several scientific theories that can shed some light on potential causes of cluttered speech. Some scientists believe that cluttering speech is related to abnormal function in the speech center of the brain. There has also been some research that supports the theory that there is a genetic component when it comes to cluttering speech disorder.
How Can Speech Therapy Help with Cluttering in Speech?
If your child is presenting some symptoms of cluttering, it is vitally important to seek out the support and help of an experienced and knowledgeable speech and language pathologist. While there is no known “cure” for cluttering at this time, children can be taught techniques that can help them be better understood by others when speaking. For the majority of these children, the first step is bringing awareness to what’s happening when they speak. Once they are aware that others are having trouble understanding them, they can use the learned techniques during speech therapy to improve the clarity and fluency of their speech.
Some of the techniques that a speech therapist might use when helping a child with a cluttering speech disorder are:
Practicing Reading Aloud – By practicing intonation and pronunciation of each word in a short passage is a great way to bring awareness to speech patterns and practice separating words and syllables to make speech more easily understandable.
Pausing and Breathing – For many people who struggle with cluttered speech, they will attempt to complete their thought or sentence within one breath, regardless of how long it is. The speech therapist will coach the individual on how to speak with appropriate breaks and pauses.
Using Your Inner Voice – Often when someone is not easily understood, they will speak louder or more quickly, but this does not help with the clarity of speech. The individual will be encouraged to learn to speak with their “inner voice” which reduces strain on the vocal cords and in turn makes room for proper articulation.
Understanding Your Rate of Speech – It is important to understand and be aware of your speaking rate. This will help to determine what is a normal rate of speech for you and what may be too fast.
Exaggerated Speaking and Stressing Syllables – Practicing exaggerated speech allows the individual to force themselves into proper pacing of speech by enunciating each sound within a word. Spending time practicing exaggerated speaking helps you apply the same concept to your daily life.
It is very important to note that not everyone who struggles with cluttered speech needs to practice all of these methods. The key to improving the clarity of speech with someone who clutters is consistent practice. It is also important to remember that trying to achieve perfect fluency is an unrealistic goal as regular speakers aren’t 100% fluent all of the time. Don’t wait to get help for a speech disorder. Great Speech can help. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!