Cluttering: the other fluency disorder!

Hi everyone! Last week I posted about stuttering, which is a fluency disorder that many people are familiar with. There’s also another fluency disorder that many people have never heard about. It’s called cluttering, and here are some facts about it: 

 

What is Cluttering?

 

Cluttering is a fluency disorder in which an individual’s speech is perceived as too fast, too irregular, or both.  People who clutter can be characterized as having disorganized speech.  They typically use many fillers and have more hesitations, revisions or other breaks in speech compared with normal speakers. 

 

To the listener, a person with a cluttering disorder seems to be unsure of what they are trying to say.  However, the person cluttering is often not aware of the existence of their disorder.  

 

Cluttering is a very unique disorder in that some of its characteristics can initially resemble another disorder such as apraxia, or more commonly, stuttering.

In addition, cluttering is also likely to coexist with stuttering or other speech and/or language disorders.

Characteristics of Cluttering

 

  • Rapid speech rate that negatively affects other aspects of communication.
  • Excessive disfluencies, including revisions
  • Monotone voice
  • Indistinct “mumbling” like speech.
  • Errors occurring in normal connected speech that do not appear during single word utterances or more slowly produced speech.
  • Poor thought organization and expression
  • Short attention span, hyperactivity and restlessness
  • Errors where sounds are transposed within a word, phrase or sentence.
  • Telescoped errors where sounds and even syllables are missing from words.
  • Lack of awareness of speech errors. Clutterers are often surprised when communicative partners don’t understand them.

 

How is Cluttering Diagnosed?

 

      In order for cluttering to be successfully treated, it needs to be accurately diagnosed.  Assessment of cluttering is very extensive and may require multiple sessions.  Often, an entire diagnostic team will be utilized. The Speech-Language Pathologist will  then need to collaborate with other professionals such as classroom teachers, psychologists, special education teachers and at times a neuropsychologist.

      During the diagnostic sessions, a variety of speech areas will be analyzed, including the client’s speech rate, fluency, articulation, language and voice.  In addition, the client will likely be asked to perform a variety of rote tasks such as counting, reciting memorized material, singing, oral reading and spontaneous speech.

      It is crucial for the SLP and the diagnostic team to determine whether stuttering or any other disorders are present in conjunction with the cluttering. If an additional disorder does present, treatment of the cluttering symptoms may have to wait until any and all other disorders have been successfully treated.

How is Cluttering Treated?

Therapy designs for treating cluttering will be tailored to the unique and specific needs of the client. However, the following list of suggested strategies are often employed:

  • Slowing speech rate
  • Heightening monitoring/client’s awareness of errors
  • Using clear articulation
  • Using acceptable, organized language
  • Interacting with listeners
  • Speaking naturally
  • Reducing excessive disfluencies

 

Roth, F. P., & Worthington, C. K. (2005). Treatment resource manual for speech-language pathology (3rd ed.). Australia: Thomson Delmar Learning.

 

Stuttering Foundation: A Nonprofit Organization Helping Those Who Stutter. (n.d.). Stuttering Foundation: A Nonprofit Organization Helping Those Who Stutter. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.stutteringhelp.org/

 

The ASHA Leader. (n.d.). Cluttering Updated. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2003

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