Speech defect affecting the rhythm and fluency of speech, with involuntary repetition of sounds or syllables and intermittent blocking or prolongation of sounds, syllables, and words. Stutterers consistently have trouble with words starting with consonants, first words in sentences, and multisyllable words. Stuttering has a psychological, not a physiological, basis, tending to appear in children pressured to speak fluently in public. In earlier times, stutterers were subjected to often torturous efforts to cure them. Today it is known that about 80percnt recover without treatment, usually by early adulthood. This probably results from increased self-esteem, acceptance of the problem, and consequent relaxation. Seealso speech therapy.
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