Covert Stuttering One of the hallmarks of stuttering is that it is a variable disorder. For most people who stutter, it is comprised of overt core speech behaviors such as sound/syllable repetitions, prolongations, and blocks, as well as other overt behaviors, such as speech interjections or even body movements (e.g., head ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2007
Covert Stuttering
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Bill Murphy
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Robert W. Quesal
    Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
  • Hope Gulker
    Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Articles
Article   |   August 01, 2007
Covert Stuttering
SIG 4 Perspectives on Fluency and Fluency Disorders, August 2007, Vol. 17, 4-9. doi:10.1044/ffd17.2.4
SIG 4 Perspectives on Fluency and Fluency Disorders, August 2007, Vol. 17, 4-9. doi:10.1044/ffd17.2.4
One of the hallmarks of stuttering is that it is a variable disorder. For most people who stutter, it is comprised of overt core speech behaviors such as sound/syllable repetitions, prolongations, and blocks, as well as other overt behaviors, such as speech interjections or even body movements (e.g., head nodding, hand or foot tapping, etc.). In many cases these overt behaviors are unsuccessful attempts to stop the occurrence of stuttering (Guitar, 2005; Van Riper, 1971). However, some avoidance behaviors such as word substitutions do temporarily disguise a portion of stuttering, and all people who stutter probably use avoidance behaviors to some degree (Starkweather, 1987). Some people who stutter show little or no overt stuttering behavior and appear to talk normally most of the time. When interviewed, these individuals, known as covert stutterers (hereafter referred to as “people who stutter covertly” or PWSC), will admit that they would indeed stutter, if they didn’t do something else such as substitute an “easier” word, slow down, snap their fingers, or engage in any other avoidance behavior. This article will examine the small group of subjects who always seem able to disguise their stuttering and a larger group of individuals who use avoidance to lessen the severity of their disorder. This larger group may spend enormous energy and time trying to hide their stuttering ,but in the end, their secret is often revealed during fearful and demanding speaking situations (e.g., introducing themselves or answering a question in class).
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