A careful diagnosis, thorough evaluation and an individualized care plan, are the keys to successfully treating the fluency disorder cluttering. The disorder is characterized by perceived rapid and/or irregular rate of speech, which results in reduced clarity and fluency.

“To the listener, the speech rate of a person with cluttering sounds rapid, or sounds rapid sometimes, then other times more typical,” explained Kathleen Scaler Scott, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, assistant professor, Department of Speech-Language Pathology at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa.

In the past, experts thought the rate of speech in this patient population was faster than average, but that is no longer the case, said Scaler Scott, who recently co-authored Managing Cluttering: A Comprehensive Guidebook of Activities, with David Ward, PhD, of the University of Reading, England.

While the person’s speech might sound rapid or irregular to the listener, research now shows the rate of speech is often measured within normal limits, Scaler Scott told ADVANCE. “The current thinking is that a person with cluttering speaks at a rate that is too fast for their system to handle,” she qualified.

According to Brooke Leiman, MA, CCC-SLP, people who clutter often demonstrate missed or collapsed syllables (e.g., “I went to the zoo,” becomes “I went the zoo.”), abnormal pauses or speech that contains abnormal rhythm or syllable stress. Leiman is director of the Stuttering Clinic at the National Speech/Language Therapy Center in Bethesda, Md., and host of www.stutteringsource.com.

People who clutter also demonstrate excessive “typical” or “non-stuttering-like” disfluencies, according to Leiman. A few examples of typical disfluencies include: phrase repetitions (“can I can I have a cookie?”); phrase revisions (“I want the-can I have the cookie?”); and interjections (“um”).

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