Fluency disorders are characterized by  inappropriate rate or patterning of speech at least five percent of the time by any of the following:  sound and syllable repetitions, sound prolongations, audible or silent blocking, interjections, broken words, circumlocutions, or words produced with an excess of tension and accompanied by ancillary movements that are indicative of stress or struggle.  A fluency disorder is a speech disorder characterized by deviations in continuity, smoothness, rhythm, and/or effort with which phonological, lexical, morphological, and/or syntactic language units are spoken. 


"Dysfluency" is any interruption of fluent speech. Fluent speech is smooth, unhampered and unforced speech. Everyone has dysfluencies in their speech at one time or another. The average person will have between 7-10% of their speech disfluent. These dysfluencies are usually exhibited by word or phrase repetitions, fillers (um, ah) or interjections. Note that a key distinction between typical and atypical dysfluencies can be determined when a speaker experiences dysfluencies at a rate greater than 10%. If this does occur, they may be stuttering. "Stuttering" is speech that has more dysfluencies than is considered average and can be accompanied by strain and anxiety.


A few examples of dysfluencies are sound or syllable repetitions ("my, my, my", silent "blocks"(sound is trapped and cannot come out) almost as if a plug is in the throat, prolongations or unnatural stretching out of a sound ("thiiiiiiiiisssss") and facial grimaces or tics can be present or possibly the use of fillers (putting words in between, um or uhh).

Note that numerous children experience a period of normal nonfluency between the ages of 2 and 5 years. The frequency of dysfluency can be 10%, sometimes greater in the child's speech production. The dysfluencies are usually whole word or phrase repetitions and interjections. Sometimes a word is repeated just once or twice and is repeated easily, does not demonstrate any tension in their speech and is often unaware of their difficulty. Some children "outgrow" these dysfluencies, others do not. If a child is demonstrating great difficulty, secondary behaviors, and little improvement for a period of over a few months, the child may require speech-language therapy.