By: Catherine Coughlan, M.A., CCC-SLP

As of 2022, there has been a new body of research to support using the term “stuttering” over “fluency”. An article titled, “A Point of View About Fluency” published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research written by Seth Tichenor, Chris Constantino, and J. Scott Yaruss, emphasizes the impact and importance of this difference. While for some, the terms may seem interchangeable, however this information highlights how the words we use impact the community we serve. 

 

Call it Stuttering

There has been a recent push in the Stuttering Community and in research literacy to move away from the terms fluency and disfluency and instead label it as stuttering. The main takeaways from a recent research article encouraging this change are that using the term fluency in the context of stuttering therapy:

  • -is not fully inclusive or representative of the stuttering experience
  • -encourages the use of misleading measurement procedures
  • -constrains the subjective experience of stuttering within a false binary categorization
  • -Perpetuates a cycle of stigma that is detrimental to people who stutter (or stutters) and to the stuttering community as a whole.

 

The use of the term fluency, especially as the expectation, is describing stuttering as everything it is not and giving the priority to what stuttering is not, as opposed to instead sharing what is the stuttering experience.



What it could change: 

The researchers highlighted that this language change could:

  • -increase awareness and understanding for covert stuttering behavior
  • -highlight the social and emotional impact of stuttering (beyond just observable stuttering behaviors)
  • -change the expectation of stuttering therapy
  • -reduce the social stigma that fluency is good and stuttering is bad
  • -open up a new and more positive understanding of what stuttering is.

 

Reference:

Tichenor, S., Constantino, C., & Yaruss, J.S. (2022). “A Point of View About Fluency”, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Vol. 65, February 2022, 645–652.