What is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a communication disorder involving disruptions, or “disfluencies” in a person’s speech. The word “stuttering” can be used to refer either to the specific speech disfluencies that are commonly seen in people who stutter or to the overall communication difficulty that people who stutter may experience.

In addition to producing disfluencies, people who stutter often experience physical tension and struggle in their speech muscles, as well as embarrassment, anxiety, and fear about speaking. Together, these symptoms can make it very difficult for people who stutter to say what they want to say and to communicate effectively with others. There are perhaps as many different patterns of stuttering as there are people who stutter, and there are many different degrees of stuttering, from mild to severe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does a local NSA self-help group do?

A: Our purpose is to provide information, advocacy and mutual support for people who stutter and their families.

Q: Will going to NSA self-help meetings cure my stuttering?

A: No. We aren’t speech therapists and we don’t administer therapy. But participating in self-help can help you deal with stuttering in several ways:

  • Changing your attitudes about stuttering can help shake the shame, guilt and embarrassment that makes speaking a hassle.
  • If you are seeking stuttering treatment, we can supply a lot of information that will help you choose the therapy program that best meets your needs. Our members have had first-hand experience with a number of treatment programs, and we’re in touch with local speech-language pathologists who specialize in stuttering treatment.
  • If you are currently working with a speech therapist, self-help meetings are an opportunity to get more value out of your therapy by practicing speaking skills in a supportive environment.


Q: How severely do most NSA self-help group participants stutter?

A: It varies widely. Some of us struggle on every word, others speak fluently much of the time. There’s no such thing as a “typical” stutterer.

Q: What happens at an NSA self-help meeting?

A: Our main monthly meetings are friendly and informal. Attendance ranges from 15 to 40 people. We open the meeting by “checking in” to share recent experiences. Then we usually have a discussion program to exchange information about stuttering and handling stuttering-related situations.

Q: Will I have to talk or introduce myself?

A: We encourage everyone to share as they feel comfortable, but nobody’s going to put you on the spot. Members feel free to stutter without fear of embarrassment, or to practice speaking in a non-threatening environment.

Q: Are there any dues or fees?

A: We urge participants to join our national organization, the National Stuttering Association, to get the full benefit of membership. See the national website for details.”