What is cluttering?
To clutter is to speak in a rushed and/or irregular manner while making several mistakes. Speech is thus perceived by the listener as being too fast and difficult to follow and understand. This can occur in children as well as in adult subjects.
What are the clinical signs?
Generally, a person that clutters is often unaware of their difficulty in speech. It is usually the family members and close circle that discover the disorder. Some signs and symptoms include:
- Speaking with a fast pace.
- Word repetition and interjections such as « um ».
- Omission of syllables or absence of sounds and syllables at the end of words (example: « television » becomes « tevision »).
- Atypical placement of pauses when formulating sentences. This also affects the intonation and pace which usually come naturally while speaking.
- Difficulties in organizing thoughts. Therefore, speech is difficult to follow given that the ideas are often interrupted and that the subject jumps from one idea to the next.
It is important to distinguish between the speech of a person that clutters and that of a person that stutters. Though it is true that some elements of stuttering may also be found in cluttering (example: repetition of words, syllables or sounds, blocking, prolongation of sounds, pauses, and poor prosody), still, they come without tension. Moreover, people that clutter as well as those that stutter may develop anxiety and negative attitudes during social communication.
How to act?
Consulting a speech therapist when suspecting a speech disorder is recommended. A thorough examination will help identify the specifics of this disorder and take the necessary measures. Therefore, after the diagnosis of a cluttering disorder is confirmed, the speech therapist will put in place a plan of action that is adapted to each patient. The importance of this support is to promote the production of intelligible speech and to help the patient be more at ease while communicating. The speech therapist will essentially aim to:
- Make the patient aware of the rate of speech by developing self-awareness.
- Provide the patient with specific techniques in order to control their speech rate, better build their statements and structure their thoughts.
- Improve the patient’s communication skills.