Stuttering, symptoms and treatment

Stuttering is one of the speech disorders. A speech disorder is sometimes congenital, but can also arise from trauma or developmental delay. In addition, a speech disorder is common as a result of an underlying condition or disease. In stuttering we have primary and secondary stuttering, both of which develop at a different age. It is therefore not the case that stuttering already occurs at the age of 1. How do you recognize stuttering and what is the right treatment?

What is stuttering

Stuttering is characterized by a non-fluent way of speaking. On average, there are 200,000 people in the Netherlands who stutter. These are mainly children. Stuttering mainly poses a problem in communicating with others, which can sometimes cause the stutterer to become isolated. Children can bully the stutterer and the elderly often have difficulty finding a job as a result. Just think of a store: a stuttering salesperson will not appear very representative.


Stuttering occurs more often within one family, just like the fact that a language delay occurs more often within one family. On the one hand it could be hereditary, on the other hand the problem could also lie in the supply of language in early childhood. Children with language problems or a language delay stutter more often than children who are developing normally. In old age, stuttering is usually caused by, for example, a cerebral hemorrhage or trauma to the brain. The brain’s control of muscles and breathing then no longer runs smoothly. In children this is sometimes congenital: a defect has developed somewhere. Sometimes these children start talking late and sometimes have weak muscle tone around the mouth. The tongue may hang out a lot or the lips may not be closed enough. Insecurity and emotional tension also play a role in the development of stuttering.

Primary stuttering

This often occurs between the ages of 4 and 7 years. Primary stuttering is usually the result of social and emotional insecurity. The language is not yet properly mastered and it is precisely these insecurities that cause the child to stutter. In most cases, primary stuttering will heal spontaneously without outside help. This can be resolved sooner with the help of speech therapy.

Secondary stuttering

Secondary stuttering usually occurs from the age of 7. The child is aware of the stuttering and tries to avoid it. When others point out to the child that he or she stutters, the child will often try to avoid the language. The child will start using different words because he or she is afraid of stuttering with certain initial letters. The child also often says something completely different than what he actually intended, just to avoid stuttering. These children should always be helped through therapy.
In the elderly, secondary stuttering occurs as a result of a brain injury or other injury or disorder. Stuttering is often embarrassing for the elderly: they feel vulnerable and often looked at.


Stuttering does not always occur in every sentence or conversation. Often it is certain letters or words that the stutterer ‘falls’ at. Disruptions occur in words or sentences, speech sounds or words are repeated one or more times. Some stutterers get red-faced from exertion or emotion. Stuttering is mainly related to the environment and circumstances. In situations where the stutterer feels completely relaxed or feels alone, the stuttering may suddenly disappear. Situations such as having to speak in public are very difficult and a tense situation for many stutterers.


It is important for parents of children who stutter to continue to encourage the child. Don’t focus on the stuttering itself. The school and surrounding area will also have to pay attention to this. This will make the child relax more. Speech therapy will usually be recommended. Speech therapy is used to train breathing, control of muscles such as mouth and tongue, making sounds and learning to relax in certain situations.
Speech therapy is reimbursed for children up to the age of 18 from the basic package. In 2012 there was a personal contribution of 10 euros per session, but these plans were later scrapped after successful protests by speech therapists. Speech therapy is usually reimbursed for adults aged 18 and over, provided certain conditions are met. For example, the insurer will usually require that the speech therapist is a contracted care provider. If this is not the case, the compensation will sometimes be less. Please inquire with your own insurer about the conditions. This person can explain the compensation.

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