Is Stuttering Increasing During the Pandemic?

In his article, ‘Is stuttering increasing during the pandemic?’ speech pathologist, Scott Yaruss, who is widely known for his contributions with  Stuttering Therapy Resources, reports an increase in referrals for stuttering assessment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Yaruss states that the increase seen is a result of several factors, and does not necessarily mean an increase in incidence of stuttering. These factors include:

  • Parents and caregivers may be experiencing a high level of stress and concern for their children; parents may now be aware of noticeable differences in the way a child is speaking
  • Many parents and caregivers have been working from home or spending more time in the household than before – they may now be noticing speech dysfluencies that they might not have “tuned in” to
  • Children are experiencing a lot of change in their daily routines and environments; while stuttering is not caused by anxiety or psychological factors, it can be exacerbated by environmental changes and internal stressors
  • School schedules have changed – for children who were regularly receiving services in the school, their session may be have been disrupted, which may have impacted the rate of progress for fluency therapy

Yaruss’ takeaway? Regardless of the reason why an increase in referrals is being seen, we as speech language pathologists can provide support and education for our clients and their families. The pandemic itself has not caused stuttering as a response to stress and anxiety, rather, the stress may be contributing to increases in dysfluency.    

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