As a speech-language pathologist, I am often asked “what causes my son/daughter to stutter?”

Unfortunately, there isn’t one, straight-forward answer. Although much research has been done, clinicians and researchers alike are still unsure.

Some researchers think that some people are more genetically predisposed to stuttering. This is why some children exhibit the behaviour and others do not. There are also ideas that this predisposition can interact with a child’s environment to bring out stuttering. For example, some children stutter more at school and some stutter more at home. This means there are certain things about the environment that may trigger stuttering.

So, the only thing that everyone can agree on is that the cause of stuttering is complex. It is dependent on numerous factors and how they interact with one another.

As a parent of a child who stutters, it is important to remember that nobody is to blame. Early intervention by a speech-language pathologist can be extremely valuable to both parents and the child. The focus of therapy should be less about the “why” (does my child stutter) and more about the “how” (can we make it better).

Written by: Jana Zalmanowitz, speech-language pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada.