Speech occurs as a set of physical events. When we talk, muscles contract to produce movements of the chest and abdominal regions that, in turn, transfer air through the vocal tract. Movements of vocal folds, tongue, lips, soft palate and jaw, change the shape of the vocal tract and act upon the air stream to generate the sounds we use in spoken communication.
Fluent speech refers to speech that flows freely through time. Muscle contractions during fluent speech are coordinated and occur in smoothly executed sequences. However, during stuttered speech, muscle contractions become distorted, coordination among muscles suffers and smoothness of movements is disrupted.
Professionals who work with stuttering identify disturbances that interrupt the free flow of speech as "disfluencies." In simple terms, a disfluency represents an instance of stuttering. The physical nature of disfluencies means that many of them can be observed and reported upon.
Typical disfluencies of stuttering include:
1. Repetitions of sounds, syllables and words
2. Prolongation of sounds at the beginning of syllables
3. Blockage of voice during attempts to initiate speech.
If you stutter, you are in position to notice particular aspects of the problem as you experience it. This website will allow you to track properties of your stuttering over time and can assist in helping you become more knowledgeable about your speech.
One method used to evaluate stuttering is to ask the person who stutters to rate properties of his or her perception of speech during a specified time period or in a given situation. This form of evaluation is useful in tracking changes in stuttering over time and can increase a person's awareness of what happens during instances of stuttering.
In the testing section of PSItest.org, you will be asked how you perceive your current characteristics of fluency.
Some of the important dimensions of stuttering include:
1. The frequency (number of times) with which disfluent words occur
2. The duration (time) of blockages in attempts to initiate speech
3. The intensity (strength) of the muscle effort experienced during stutters.
In addition, there are often personal reactions to stuttered speech and to the circumstances in which it can occur. It is possible to evaluate stuttering by counting each word on which at least one disfluency occurs. Thus, if I repeat a syllable (ca-ca-ca) three times in an attempt to say the word "can", that word receives a mark as a single disfluent word. In clinical and research settings it is usual to count disfluent words or syllables. This task can be quite difficult and time consuming and will not be used here.
You are encouraged to continue your evaluation by taking the free test located at www.StutteringEvaluator.org. Your PSItest.org login name and password will also work for StutteringEvaluator.org.