Stuttering is a fairly common speech disorder that usually begins during childhood. It is characterized by frequent breaks in speech that are called disfluencies. The severity and manner of stuttering can vary quite a bit from person to person. For example, some only experience it while speaking in front of a large group, while others experience their stuttering all the time. Stuttering also sometimes goes away during childhood, while others may have it for their entire lives. Often, stuttering can cause people to withdraw from certain activities or not have opportunities in careers or social activities because of their speaking challenges.
The sound of stuttering differs from person to person. The example many think of is repeating a specific sound over and over again, like a "W" or an "S." But stuttering can also include long pauses or breaks in speech, or sounding tense and out of breath while trying to speak. It may also include the use of interjections like "er" or "um" more frequently than those who do not stutter.
Stuttering is often treated with the help of a speech-language pathologist. Treatment typically includes behavioral practices like working on delivering words at a slower rate or controlling and monitoring breathing while speaking. Overcoming stuttering is usually a matter of practice and follow-up until the person develops the confidence to control stuttering on his own. People who interact with those who stutter can also help by being patient and giving the person time to fully express thoughts.
SOURCES: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; KidsHealth