In our previous blog posts and videos, we have talked about:
- The ideal speaking rate,
- How to clean up your speech,
- How to think before you speak,
- Public speaking practice,
- The importance of public speaking,
- And more helpful tips for public speaking.
But what if the way you speak naturally doesn’t permit you to use these tips successfully for optimal effect? How do you get rid of fillers when you can’t help using them?
Speaking disfluencies are a typical component of our daily lives. People are more familiar with stuttering, but there is a less common disfluency called cluttering speech that could affect your potential to be an excellent public speaker.
Understanding the concept of cluttering speech, its treatment, symptoms, and other related factors will help you empathize better with a friend or family who struggles with cluttering. Proper knowledge will also help you determine if you share a similar struggle to seek help to begin to optimize our tips for a better public speaking experience or learn how to stop cluttering speech.
Today, I would not share tips for public speaking or anything of that sort. Instead, I will be sharing knowledge on a form of disfluency that isn’t well represented.
What Is Cluttered Speech? What Is Cluttering Speech?
Cluttering is a fluency disorder that involves disorganized, irregular, rapid, and unclear speaking, which is called cluttered speech. It is often mistaken for stuttering, but we will look at the differences later in the article.
The definition of cluttering speech is a form of speaking characterized by the following cluttering symptoms:
- Using unnecessary revisions disfluencies and filler words. An example is “I heard er Janice was getting —Janice rescued a dog from the um pound.
- Extreme articulation, where they blend syllables and sounds and pronounce words like those syllables do not exist.
- Making unexpected non-grammatical pauses while presenting a speech or talking
Here is an introduction to cluttered speech:
Cluttering speech is a rare, relatively unknown type of speaking disability that people often mistake for stuttering. Some cluttered speakers refer to themselves as stutters.
Additionally, sometimes cluttering and stuttering occur together in a person, making it more confusing. In the next heading, we will look at the differences between these two disorders that are commonly mistaken for each other.
Stuttering: A Similar Speech Fluency Disorder
As I said earlier, cluttering and stuttering are commonly (erroneously) used interchangeably, but we have established that they are two different speech disorders. So, what exactly makes them different?
How can you tell the difference when someone suffering from both disorders is talking? Since we’ve already defined cluttering speech, we will move on to define stuttering and then differentiate between them in the next section.
Stuttering, also called stammering or disfluent speech, is a type of speech disorder where speakers repeat syllables, words, or sounds; sometimes, they prolong sounds and have speech interruptions, which are known as blocks. People who stutter know what they want to say precisely, but they struggle with producing a typical flowing speech.
Stuttering is a more common fluency disorder than cluttering speech. It’s something almost everyone has experienced when they were learning to talk or have heard from a classmate at school.
It is important to note that both cluttering speech and stuttering have a genetic component, and about one-third of stutterers also clutter.
How Is Cluttering Different From Stuttering? How To Differentiate Cluttering Speech From Stuttering
As promised, we will discuss the differences between cluttering and stuttering and how to tell the two apart. One of the most observable differences between cluttered speaking and stuttering that anyone can see is that stammerers typically show physical struggle when they stutter.
Some other differences between cluttering speech and stuttering are:
|They are less likely to realize that there is a problem with their speech fluency.
|They are usually aware of their fluency challenge.
|The more commonly observed disfluency would be revisions, interjections, and repetitions.
|Speakers often experience blocks, repetitions, and lengthy speech.
|A cluttered speaker will usually start their speech with a knowledge of what to say but could get carried away down the line.
|They know what they want to say and aren’t distracted, but they struggle with articulating clearly.
|Cluttering will usually affect speech rhythm. And melody.
|Stuttering doesn’t tend to affect speech rhythm or melody.
|Cluttering speech shows unintentional speech slowing. It is usually a part of the problem.
|Stuttering makes the person exhibit a slower speech rate as a means to compensate for their disfluency.
|They may display speech slurring.
|They would not usually have slurred speech except they are clutter speakers or have another issue that causes slurred speech.
|They show little or no secondary behaviors (like physical discomfort and fidgeting).
|They may show secondary behaviors and mannerisms as they talk.
What Causes Cluttering Speech?
|Some professionals attribute cluttering to an abnormal functioning Broca’s area (the speech center of the brain). They believe that these centers that control speech rate, fluency, and language-based speech planning have irregular functioning.
|A piece of emerging evidence that supports the theory above is that there is a genetic component to cluttering.
How To Identify Cluttering: Symptoms And Risk Factors
How do you tell someone who has a cluttering speech? What are the cluttering symptoms and potential risk factors for clutter speaking?
Symptoms Parents Can Look Out For
- Your child doesn’t usually seem sure of what they want to say.
- They suddenly prolong the words they are saying inappropriately.
- Your child’s speech does not sound smooth or fluent, but they do not seem to make physical efforts or struggle when pronouncing words.
- Using unnecessary filler words or sounds and revisions.
- They may slur their speech and omit some syllables.
- They show an irregular speech rate, pause sporadically, talk too fast, or blurt words out.
- Sometimes, they leave words uncompleted.
Even if your child experiences all these symptoms, accurate diagnosis is crucial before they obtain treatment. The best person to make this diagnosis will be a speech-language pathologist.
They will assess your child and determine if cluttering is present or if the child has another communication problem. In the latter section on co-occurring symptoms, I will share some risk factors to look out for.
Cluttering Speech Examples
Some of these symptoms to look out for are:
- Irregular or rapid speech rate
- Leaving off the ends of words
- Distorting or omitting syllables of words
How To Stop Cluttering Speech/How To Stop Cluttering When I Speak?
Cluttering may not be easy to get rid of entirely, especially if you are not aware of it. However, here are some tips that can help you learn how to stop cluttering speech to the point where it becomes nonexistent when you speak.
One benefit stutters have that helps them get better is awareness. They know that their speech is different, so they can work on it.
Applying the same policy to cluttered speaking allows you to pay close attention to your speech and point out where you are cluttering as one of the first steps to knowing how to stop cluttering speech.
One of the best ways to identify the difference is to record yourself speaking. That way, you know what to watch out for. Once you can determine what is cluttering and what is more typical, you can start making efforts directed toward how to stop cluttering speech.
Here, the exercise on how to stop cluttering speech is to practice intonation and emphasize pronouncing each term in a passage. With time and proper practice, you will be able to separate words and syllables to make more intelligible phrases.
Pausing and Breathing
A common trait that fast speakers and cluttered speakers share is talking on residual air. Here, they must complete their thought in one breath, no matter how long it is. A tip on how to stop cluttering speech here is to practice breaking and breathing while talking.
When you start trying to talk like you are reading a book and observing the full stops and commas to break, it will help you start each new sentence on a clean slate and reduce the occurrence of cluttered speaking.
Using Your Inner Voice
If you have experience talking fast or cluttering, your natural response to “I can’t hear you” is to increase your voice’s volume. However, talking fast and loud isn’t a good combination.
Learning to use your inner voice can be a successful step to learning how to stop cluttering speech since it reduces the strain on your vocal cords. Taking off most of the tension will help you have room to practice proper articulation.
Understanding Your Speech Rate
Understanding your speaking rate will help you determine what is normal for you and what is too fast.
Continuous Voicing, Exaggerated Speaking, and Stressing Syllables
Exaggerated speech lets you force yourself into pacing by enunciating every sound in a word. Spending time to practice exaggerated speaking helps you apply the same concept to your daily life.
With continuous voicing, you keep all the strategies you practiced for pauses and pacing in mind while making a sentence. Lastly, you emphasize stressing syllables you do not naturally accent (even for normal speakers) and highlight them.
It is vital to note that not everyone needs to use all these methods I have listed. You should also note that each patient may need more or less work to be more fluent. Eventually, constant practice will help you attain more fluency and reduce the number of times you hear someone say they cannot listen to you.
Trying to attain perfect fluency is an unrealistic goal since regular speakers aren’t 100% fluent, but talking audibly is the final goal of using these tips.
Co-occurring Symptoms And Diseases
Some of the conditions that may occur along with cluttering symptoms are:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Autism Spectrum or Asperger’s Syndrome
- Learning disability
- Peech motor disco-ordination
- Thought organization difficulty
- Auditory processing disorder
- Sound-specific articulation disorder
- Language formation difficulty
These conditions will help speech-language pathologists determine definitively if someone is struggling with cluttering symptoms.
The Best Methods To Stop Cluttering Speech Or Reduce
Every cluttered speaker has a unique nature, so it is best to approach each case as a special one since there is no single treatment method. It is also important to remember that most clutterers cannot hear themselves or are getting therapy for stuttering, so patience is a helpful approach in these cases.
Considerations For Treatment
Speech therapy goals for cluttering are extremely individual-directed. However, a typical pattern therapy will usually follow for treatment consideration is:
- Evaluation: Take a comprehensive case history, looking at family history, speech problems, school and work behavior, previous treatment protocols, and more. This lets you see the individual’s position on the spectrum.
- To help patients understand their case clearly and explain the path to recovery to them. This protocol allows patients to have a better attitude towards recovery on their way to stop cluttering speech.
- Bringing patients to the point of awareness to help them see the real problem with their speech patterns helps them see the need for therapy. As we discussed earlier, patients aren’t always aware that they are cluttered.
- Undergoing therapy is proper to learn how to stop cluttering speech; here, the patient applies some of the procedures we discussed earlier directed at stopping cluttering and some more personalized exercises.
- Lastly, maintaining progress to avoid a relapse. Some people may not need this procedure, but some patients require it as it helps them avoid cluttering in the future.
Advisable Treatment Course For Cluttering Speech Disorders
Speech therapy is the usual treatment course for cluttered speaking. Therapy will typically address the most common factors that influence communication breakdown and pace.
The first goal of speech therapy will usually be to reduce the rate of speech, a phase many clutterers struggle with. Pausing is an easier task for regular speakers to achieve than clutters, so achieving a slower speech rate will require inserting pauses in more natural places by applying their voice-recorded speech.
Another helpful technique (especially with kids) is to appeal to their punishment and reward centers, where they get tickets for exceeding the limit. For some clutterers, pausing is all they need to improve their speech clarity, while others may need more help.
Patients who need more help may need to learn how to exaggerate syllables in longer words and be intentional about stopping unnecessary revisions. They can plan what to say using a specific structure, and they can practice until they get better.
Who are some influencers or individuals who openly discuss their experiences with speech disorders like cluttering?
Influencers like Caitlyn Cohen, Ryleigh Spets, and @mimidarlingbeauty are using TikTok to raise awareness about speech disorders like stuttering and cluttering. By sharing their experiences and offering advice to both listeners and individuals with speech differences, they’re helping to break down barriers and promote understanding.
How can cluttering be addressed or stopped?
Speech therapy, AI speech coaches, and support from organizations like the Stuttering Foundation offer multiple paths to address cluttering. Therapy tailors strategies to improve clarity and fluency, AI coaches provide real-time feedback, and organizations connect individuals with professionals. By actively engaging in these resources, individuals can improve speech fluency and reduce cluttering behaviors.
What are some examples of cluttering in speech?
Examples of cluttering in speech include unnatural pauses, over-articulation, and revisions. Unnatural pauses can disrupt the flow of speech, with individuals pausing in unexpected places before continuing. Over-articulation can lead to the use of correct words with missing consonants or syllables, making it challenging for listeners to understand. Revisions are also common in cluttered speech, where individuals may make multiple attempts at expressing a thought or concept, resulting in fragmented or incomplete sentences. Overall, cluttering can manifest in various ways, making communication less clear and coherent.
Who typically diagnoses cluttering?
Cluttering is typically diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist (SLP), who evaluates a person’s speech patterns to identify if they exhibit symptoms of cluttering. The SLP needs to consider not only the speech characteristics but also how cluttering may be impacting the individual’s overall life, including social interactions and other areas of functioning. In some cases, other professionals such as teachers, psychologists, or primary care physicians may also provide input regarding the individual’s speech capabilities and how cluttering may be affecting various aspects of their life.
How can one know if they are cluttering?
One way to determine if you are experiencing cluttering is through observing your speech patterns. Individuals with cluttering often exhibit rapid speech, where they may speak too quickly at times, causing their thoughts to become disorganized. It’s important to note that cluttering does not necessarily mean speaking faster than the average person but rather speaking at a pace that overwhelms your own ability to keep up. If you find yourself frequently struggling to maintain a coherent flow of speech due to speaking too rapidly, you may be displaying symptoms of cluttering.
What are the signs and symptoms of cluttering?
Cluttering is a speech disorder characterized by various signs and symptoms. Some common signs include pausing unexpectedly, jerky speaking patterns, rapid speech, disorganized speech, and unclear articulation. In addition to these, individuals with cluttering may experience difficulty hearing or understanding others, have trouble paying attention, exhibit messy handwriting that is hard to read, and may have learning differences that are not related to intelligence. Cluttering can also be associated with other conditions, such as auditory processing disorders, ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome, learning disabilities, and autism. It is important to seek an official diagnosis if you suspect you may be experiencing cluttering.
What are the different types of cluttering?
There are generally two recognized types of cluttering: phonological cluttering and syntactic cluttering. Phonological cluttering pertains to speech clarity issues, making it challenging for listeners to understand the speaker due to dropped syllables or consonants, misspoken words, or difficulty with finding the right words. On the other hand, syntactic cluttering concerns the structure of speech, affecting how easily listeners can follow a story. Individuals with syntactic cluttering often use filler words and may revise their story mid-speech, impacting the effective communication of their message.
What are the potential causes of cluttering?
Cluttering, a speech disorder characterized by rapid speech that may be difficult to understand due to excessive, disorganized articulation, has been suggested to have potential causes spanning genetic and neurological factors. Anecdotal evidence points towards genetic factors playing a role in cluttering, although formal research supporting this claim is lacking. Neurological factors are also considered a significant factor in the development of cluttering, as they often co-occur with other conditions such as autism, Tourette’s syndrome, and ADHD. This suggests that a combination of genetic and neurological influences may contribute to the development of cluttering as a speech disorder.
What are some fast facts about cluttering?
One in three stutterers also experience cluttering, affecting around 1.1% of school-aged children and occurring more frequently in men. Cluttering often runs in families and potentially involves brain activity differences.
How does cluttering differ from stuttering?
While both hinder fluency, cluttering and stuttering differ in key ways. In cluttering, thoughts aren’t organized, and speech comes out rapid and chaotic. Stuttering involves clear thought but physical blocks or repetitions within structured speech patterns.
What is cluttering in speech, and how does it manifest?
Jumbled, fast speech defines cluttering, a fluency disorder often mistaken for stuttering. Unlike stutterers who struggle physically to speak clear thoughts, those who clutter battle organizing their thoughts into clear, understandable speech. Think disorganized, rapid delivery vs. structured speech with blocks/repetitions, and you’ll grasp the key difference.
How can filler words be identified and addressed in cluttered speech?
Spotting and tackling filler words in cluttered speech gets easier with tools like Yoodli. Yoodli pinpoints your exact filler words, their frequency, and your biggest crutches. Recognizing these “speech weeds” lets you actively tackle them in conversations, both beforehand and in the moment. Tools like Yoodli become your allies in practicing techniques and transforming your communication skills.
Why might someone want to improve their speech clarity and reduce cluttering?
Cluttering? Practice makes perfect! Tools like Yoodli help, but remember: good posture, breathing, and clear pronunciation go a long way. Speak slower, pause intentionally, and understand your speed. Clear communication boosts confidence, avoids misunderstandings, and even helps with other learning challenges. Practice daily with Yoodli, be patient, and soon, you’ll feel fluent and comfortable in any conversation.
Why does cluttering in speech matter?
Cluttering can trip up your message, making it hard to understand in work, social life, and more. It’s not a problem, but if you want to be heard clearly, consider seeking help from a speech therapist or using tools like Yoodli. Improved communication can boost your confidence and make life easier! Remember, embracing your unique voice is great, but clear communication matters too.
Final Notes: It’s Beneficial To Start Therapy Early
People who clutter are sometimes skeptical about the benefits of therapy initially. However, it is essential to start therapy early so that they would not face drawbacks in their career. Treatment may be expensive and tedious, but the result is always worth the cost and stress.
Always remember the importance of setting realistic goals for yourself and your therapist. Remember that little victories count, so celebrate each fluent 100 words and keep increasing the pedestal for improvement.
Due to the unpopular nature of cluttering, you may not find a speech-language pathologist who can evaluate and treat cluttering effectively and get help for it.