Stammering Jargon Explained

A glossary of stammering words

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT): A type of talking therapy that gets its name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your control and commit to action that improves and enriches your life.

Acquired stammering: A relatively rare form of stammering which occurs in older children and adults as a result of a head injury, stroke or a progressive neurological condition. It can also be caused by certain drugs or medication, or psychological or emotional trauma. Also called 'late-onset stammering'.

Adult onset stammering: See 'Acquired stammering'.

Block modification: Also known as stammering modification, this type of therapy focuses on reducing avoidance behaviours and learning ways to manage moments of stammering more easily.

Camperdown Programme: A behavioural therapy programme to help adults who stammer to speak more fluently by learning prolonged speech: easy, flowing, smooth production of continuous speech.

Cluttering: Speaking at a rapid or irregular rate, with excessive repetition of whole words and/or pronunciation difficulties, making a person difficult to understand. Sounds like mumbled speech. Often confused with stammering.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT): A type of talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. Speech & language therapists often integrate it into speech therapy.

Costal breathing: A breathing method which uses the intercostal muscles to expand the ribcage while inhaling. Also known as diaphragmatic breathing. The basis for The McGuire Programme and The Starfish Project.

Covert stammering: A person with a covert stammer has high levels of fluency, uses strategies to hide their stammer and feels very negatively about stammering. Also known as 'interiorised' or 'hidden stammering'.

Desensitisation: A term used in speech therapy to describe the process of becoming more open to experience moments of stammering, often through reducing avoidance behaviours (such as changing words) or through use of voluntary stammering.

Developmental stammering: The most common type of stammering which starts in early childhood, normally between the ages of 2 and 5. The majority of children who start stammering at this young age will stop stammering.

Dysfluency: Means the same as stammering or stuttering. Often used by speech & language therapists.

Iceberg: A commonly used metaphor to describe two aspects of stammering: the visible part of the iceberg equates to stammering behaviours which are observable to the listener. The part of the iceberg beneath the surface, the hidden and often the larger part, equates to the thoughts and feelings related to stammering. 

Idiopathic stammering: Stammering that starts later in life and where the cause cannot be identified. 

Interiorised stammering: See 'Covert stammering'.

Late onset stammering (now more commonly called adult onset stammering): See 'Acquired stammering'.

The Lidcombe Programme: Direct therapy for children who stammer, under the age of 6 (may be suitable for older children). A structured programme where the speech & language therapist teaches the parent to give feedback to their child about their speech. The aim is to eliminate or reduce stammering.

Mindfulness: The ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It can be developed through formal and informal practices.

Neurogenic stammering: The most common type of stammering that starts later in life ('acquired stammering').

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP): NLP uses perceptual, behavioural and communication techniques to make it easier for people to change their thoughts and actions.

Parent-child interaction: Therapy programme using video feedback to help parents develop supportive ways of communicating with their child, to increase fluency.

Psychogenic stammering: A type of stammer that can start later in life ('acquired stammering'). Typically caused by stress or bereavement.

PWS: 'Acronym meaning 'People who stammer/stutter'. A term often used in research papers. 

Selective mutism: A complex childhood anxiety disorder where the child is unable to speak and communicate effectively in certain social settings, such as school. The child is able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure, and relaxed.

SEND code of practice: Statutory guidance for children and young people aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disability.

SLT: Acronym meaning 'speech & language therapist'.

Smooth speech: A type of therapy where the focus is on learning a fluency technique applied to the whole of your speech, regardless of whether you're stammering or not.

Solution-focused brief therapy: A talking therapy, based on solution-building rather than problem-solving. Although it acknowledges present problems and past causes, it predominantly explores an individual's current resources and future hopes. This can help them to look forward and use their own strengths to achieve their goals.

Stammering modification: See 'Block modification'.

Stuttering: The term for stammering preferred in America, Australia and New Zealand, but it means the same thing.

Voluntary stammering: Stammering on purpose. People use it on non-feared words to help them become desensitised to stammering.