Introduction Childhood-onset fluency disorder, commonly referred to as stuttering, is classified as a disruption in an individual’s ability to verbally express themselves due to involuntary movements of the tongue, repetition, or abnormal pronunciation or sounds. Stuttering is used to define both the disorder and the observed symptoms. Causes and treatments for stuttering have varied throughout history, however current research supports biological and genetic causes. An important distinction must be made between childhood-onset fluency disorders, which is medically seen as persistent developmental symptoms, and acquired stuttering. Idiopathic or neurogenic causes, the most common of which are stroke or traumatic brain injuries, are the
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For as long as stuttering has been documented, science has been trying to determine the cause and a treatment for it. German philosopher Moses Mendelssohn proposed in the mid-1700’s that stuttering was a psychological process that occurred as the result of a storm of thoughts happening simultaneously in the brain. During the same period Joseph Frank argued that the psychological causes were cerebral injuries or an excess of sexuality. During the latter part of the 18th century a spur of psychoanalytic supporters began diagnosing stuttering as a neurosis (Goldberg, 1989).
Somatogenic perspectives suggest that there are definite biological causes for fluency disorders. In ancient Greece the earliest medical diagnoses of stuttering was recorded as tongue dryness (Buchel & Sommer, 2004). In the early 1800’s a German surgeon, Johann Frederick Dieffenbach, believed that a physiological cure could be produced to reduce stuttering and muscle spasms, thus developing a surgical method to disrupt nervous supplies to the tongue (Goldberg, 1989). Surgical methods were continually used throughout the 19th century, which often lead to even more severe abnormalities. Products such as tongue weights were also created to improve its strength and use. It was not until the 20th century that psychological causes starting seriously being researched and associated as causes for stuttering (Buchel & Sommer, 2004).
Within the psychological community, one of the early