Youth Cluttering

What are the symptoms of cluttering?

Cluttering is a fluency disorder, and according to the latest research, it often coexists with stuttering and learning disabilities. A child who clutters has a rapid speech rate which is irregular in rhythm and often accompanied by inappropriate pausing and inflection. Speech may sound unclear and blended, especially as words increase in length and complexity (mystery, mysterious, mysteriously). If a child’s speech is rapid, disorganized or abnormal breathing is observed, the diagnosis of cluttering should be considered.

Cluttering is a communication breakdown which may develop into a psychological concern if the child stops communicating due to the stress of talking. The communication channel between friends, family and teachers breaks down and the child doesn’t have the skills to correct the errors. They may feel isolated and misunderstood. Children who clutter need to be supported at home and in the classroom. They need to be taught therapy techniques, so they are better able to self-monitor their fluency.

Why does my child say I am not listening to him? I hear the cluttering, but he insists his speech is fine!

Children who clutter are often asked to repeat and slow their speech rate because their listener does not understand them. The child who clutters often becomes very frustrated; they feel they are being corrected unnecessarily. They do not perceive the errors in their speech and may feel the person they are talking with isn’t listening to them.

This communication breakdown may develop into a psychological problem because the child stops communicating as often due to the stress of talking. The communication channel between friends, family and teachers breaks down and the child doesn’t have the skills to correct the errors. They feel isolated and misunderstood. Children who clutter need to be supported, not criticized. They need to be taught therapy techniques, so they are better able to self-monitor their fluency. At Granite Bay Speech, therapy for cluttering often involves family counseling to repair communication breakdowns and misunderstandings.

What is the incidence of cluttering and stuttering?

About 55% of fluency clients only stutter

About 40% of fluency clients have co-existing stuttering and cluttering

About 5% of fluency clients only clutter

What is meant by the term “pure cluttering”?

The term, “pure cluttering” is defined as a person who clutters, but does not have any co-existing fluency symptoms.

Why should I seek treatment for cluttering at Granite Bay Speech?

Granite Bay Speech specializes in treating fluency disorders and we have worked with many children who clutter. We can identify and address the specific needs of your child. To the untrained ear, cluttering is often mistaken for stuttering and inappropriate treatment strategies are utilized. It is important to consult a speech-language pathologist who has expertise in fluency disorders to develop an effective treatment plan for cluttering. Our director, Nancy Barcal has decades of experience treating fluency disorders, and she has trained the Granite Bay Staff. You can be assured of a competent diagnosis and treatment when you consult with Granite Bay Speech.

What are some therapy goals for children who clutter?

Therapy goals may include: slowing speech rate, formulating concise ideas, practicing rhythmic speech for clear articulation, and breathing naturally.

What academic areas are affected by cluttering?

Academic areas which are often affected include spelling and reading. A child who clutters has difficulty perceiving the unstressed syllable and they may perceive vowel sounds incorrectly.

Parents are advised to seek treatment from a speech-language pathologist who is trained and licensed to treat cluttering disorders. In order to obtain the best results, it is recommended that the professional you select be capable of diagnosing and treating the root cause of the academic difficulty.

What other developmental concerns might co-exist with the diagnosis of cluttering?

Children who clutter tend to be small in stature, and may reach normal gross motor skills (sitting, standing, walking, and hopping) later than their typically developing peers. Children who clutter may exhibit behaviors that are similar to a child with ADHD: hyperactivity, impulsivity, and restlessness.

Language development is often delayed resulting in difficulty with word retrieval and word order. Motor and language delays often cause an individual who clutters to avoid complex sentences or multisyllabic words. A child may want to say, beautiful, but may substitute the word, nice, instead, to avoid pronouncing a longer word. The longer word requires advanced motor speech skills which are often delayed in a child who clutters.

Can a person who clutters have coexisting difficulties?

Children who clutter may also be diagnosed with apraxia, Tourette’s, ADHD, or be on the autism spectrum.