The mysterious Stuttering block explained

“I have trouble speaking sometimes. The words don’t come out fluent, or they don’t come out at all. This happens especially when I’m excited, nervous, or during stressful situations.”

”No no, not stuttering. Just….stuck.”

"Stuttering is when people repeat or prolong sounds, right?"


So what is stuttering?

Stuttering, in its simplest form, is any disruption to fluency. This could be repetitions, prolongations, or blocks and may occur anywhere in the word or phrase. As a way to get through these stuttering moments, one may use fillers, revise their thought, or simply change the word.

How come I've never heard of the stuttering block?

I had my own personal experience with this a few years ago when I was determined to find out why I talked like this. I always had silent blocks (since the time I started speaking) that remained an enigma for years. My mom used to tell me “Your thoughts just move faster than your mouth.”

I wasn’t buying it.

The Stuttering Block

I googled, “not being able to get your words out” because that's all I knew. What came up was an article on the stuttering block. I was intrigued to learn that this existed! I thought stuttering was simply when people repeat sounds.

What happens in a stuttering block?

Whether you’re repeating a single sound and unable to get to the next sound, or stuck and unable to get to the first sound, the theme here is STUCK. Stuttering is also characterized by a loss of control (an involuntary disruption to the speech mechanism).

You may stutter if you exhibit most or all of the following:

I feel a lot of tension during the disfluency.
In my lungs
In my throat
In my jaw

How do I know if I am blocking?

I think if I just relaxed I could speak fine.

Well, yes, maybe if your vocal mechanism were completely relaxed everything would be fluent (in fact, there are therapy techniques that focus specifically on this). However, sometimes these “relaxation techniques” just don’t work. There’s something underneath that’s causing the stutter; that even when you’re completely relaxed, you still stutter. Nerves or anxiety does not cause stuttering. Stuttering is a neurophysiological disorder. Oftentimes, it is the stuttering that causes the anxiety.

I don’t always have trouble speaking. Sometimes I can say things perfectly fine.

Yep, that’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes you’re fluent, sometimes you’re not. There are endless variables.

I get along by changing words and revising my thoughts.

Do you feel like you’re not saying what you want to say? Always on the lookout for words you might get stuck on? Carefully craft that work presentation and filter out the hard words?

I have a lot of trouble on my name.

Saying your name or things you “have" to say, especially under time pressure, is often challenging for people who stutter.

Yes, but I can avoid this.

Let me introduce you to COVERT stuttering.

There are many ways that someone may fall into the category of a covert stutterer. Here are two of the most common:

1. No one really knows you stutter. People may hear a little disfluency, but you pass it off as “normal slip-ups.” When an unavoidable block occurs, you may change the word or pretend you forgot the word.

2. People know you stutter or have some sort of speech impediment, but it’s the elephant in the room. Family, friends, and/or coworkers have heard you stutter, but no one talks about it. You may feel intense shame about your speech.

If this sounds like you, schedule a free consultation with speech IRL today.