Onset and Development

original author: Valerie LaPorte, former student
revised by: Cindy S. Spillers, current web master

Stuttering typically begins between the ages of 2 and 5 years. Some children show signs of stuttering as young as 18 months or show no signs until the age of 12 or 13 years. Many children go through a stage of development during which they repeat words and phrases, draw out sounds, or have other dysfluencies. In most cases, this "stuttering" is considered normal dysfluency. For some children however, seemingly normal dysfluencies are actually signs of early stuttering.

Stuttering is a developmental speech disorder, beginning in early childhood. In about half of all cases it begins gradually over the course of many months. In the other half of cases the stuttering begins suddenly, within about two weeks. Early stuttering may not progress smoothly. Rather it comes and goes in cycles. Left untreated stuttering may become more severe over time. Here is a list of common behaviors associated with stuttering. This list is often known as the "Eight Danger Signs of Stuttering."

 These video clips were taken from the film Prevention of Stuttering: Identifying the Danger Signs, and are copyrighted by the
Stuttering Foundation of America

Many different theories and models have been proposed to explain how stuttering develops. Some of the same features cut across these models and theories. The characteristics listed here were compiled from a variety of theories and represent most types of behaviors seen in people who stutter. Not all people who stutter will exhibit all of these behaviors.

Stage One
Normal Dysfluency (ages 2-6)

Stage Two
Borderline Stuttering (ages 2- 6)

Stage Three
Beginning Stuttering (Ages 2-6)

Stage Four
Intermediate Stuttering (Ages 6-13)

Stage Five
Advanced Stuttering (Ages 14-Adult)

Posted May, 1997
Revised 12/00; 8/01

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