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 person who clutters has a rapid speech rate which is irregular in rhythm and often accompanied by inappropriate pausing and inflection.

How does a person’s speech sound if they clutter?

Speech may sound unclear and blended, especially as words increase in length and complexity. An individual who clutters may be able to say the word mystery clearly, however, as sound complexity increases, they are unable to accurately monitor their speech production. They have trouble pronouncing longer words such as, mysterious or mysteriously.

Why doesn’t the person who clutters correct their speech errors?

When a person who clutters thinks of what they want to say, the formation of the words are clear in their mind. They aren’t cluttering or speaking fast as they plan their sentence. When listeners don’t understand a person who clutters, the person who clutters often believes the listener is at fault. The listener hears unclear speech, at a fast rate and is frustrated because they don’t understand why a person would talk that fast and not even attempt to repeat or self-correct their unclear speech. The person who clutters often feels frustrated with their listener. The person who clutters doesn’t hear the errors and as a result they do not self-correct. Often times a person who clutters will not have the ability to correct errors unless their speech is videotaped and replayed several times to hear the mispronunciations.

 If a person’s speech is rapid, disorganized or abnormal breathing is observed, the diagnosis of cluttering should be considered.

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.

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

Can a person who clutters have coexisting difficulties?

Yes. Children who clutter may also be diagnosed with learning disabilities, speech and language disorders, apraxia, Tourette’s, ADHD, or be on the autism spectrum.

Youth Who Clutter

Cluttering is a communication breakdown which may cause the child to stop communicating due to the frustration of talking. The communication channel between friends, family and teachers breaks down because the child hasn’t been taught the skills needed to hear and correct their speech 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 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 do not always perceive the errors in their speech and may feel the person they are talking with isn’t listening to them. The child who clutters often becomes very frustrated; they feel they are being corrected unnecessarily. Children who clutter need to be supported and families need tips to communicate without causing increased frustration. At Granite Bay Speech, we support your family as you work to improve communication skills. We understand the challenges behind cluttering and help to bridge communication gaps.

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

Parents often feel overwhelmed due to the complexities of cluttering. We organize a step by step therapy plan which is easy to follow. Therapy goals are broken down into small achievable goals. We specialize in treating fluency disorders and have worked with many children who clutter. We 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, listening skills, spelling and reading. A child who clutters often has difficulty perceiving the unstressed syllable and they may perceive vowel sounds incorrectly. At Granite Bay Speech, we are capable of diagnosing and treating the root cause of common academic difficulties.

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 instead substitute the word, nice, to avoid pronouncing a longer word. Longer words require advanced motor speech skills which are often delayed in a child who clutters.

Adults Who Clutter

When I was a child my parents noted some developmental concerns; are they related to cluttering?

Childhood developmental concerns may be related to cluttering. Read the following to see if any of these apply to your childhood development:

As a child, adults who clutter may have been small in stature, and may have reached 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.

I had trouble in school when I was a child; could this be related to cluttering?

Academic areas which are often affected include spelling and reading; a child who clutters does not always perceive the unstressed syllable, nor do they perceive vowel sounds accurately. Your parents may have brought you to a tutor if you cluttered as a child.

In order to obtain the best results, parents are now advised to seek treatment from a speech-language pathologist who is trained and licensed to treat cluttering and academic disorders.

If I received treatment as a child for cluttering, wouldn’t that therapy cure my cluttering?

While many people who clutter may have received treatment as a child, they were often misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated for a language disorder, stuttering, or speech sound disorders; they were not treated for cluttering. Many adults who clutter are pleasantly surprised at their rapid progress when they seek treatment at Granite Bay Speech. We utilize effective, research based techniques for fluency disorders which were unavailable, as recently as ten years ago.

I think my spouse clutters. He often says I am not listening to him. I hear the cluttering, but he insists his speech is fine! This is causing friction in our marriage; what can I do?

You can help by understanding what cluttering is and how the person who clutters perceives their speech. While you do not experience cluttering, you can try to imagine what it would be like if every time you spoke someone said your speech was garbled and unclear. A person who clutters is faced with people asking them to repeat their speech every day. Individuals who clutter often decrease verbal communication. They are tired and discouraged when they are constantly told they are not understood. A person who clutters may feel they are being corrected unnecessarily. When a person clutters they often do not perceive the errors in their speech. They may feel the person they are talking with isn’t listening to their message. They might feel others are waiting to catch an error in their speech and ignoring their ideas. But don’t worry; there are many easy ways you can help.

First, obtain accurate information about cluttering and share with your spouse that you have a better understanding of what he is experiencing. Then ask if he is interested in learning about techniques to improve his speech so you can communicate with less stress. Nancy will meet with you in a confidential appointment to provide helpful techniques that can be utilized immediately to improve communication skills. She will discuss treatment options that fit your time and budget. Therapy techniques and technology are utilized to obtain progress in a short period of time.

Why should I, as an adult, seek treatment for cluttering at Granite Bay Speech?

Granite Bay Speech specializes in treating fluency disorders and we have worked with many individuals who clutter. We identify and address the specific needs of each individual. 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. Our director, Nancy Barcal, has treated fluency disorders for over 3 decades. You can be assured of competent diagnosis and treatment when you consult with Granite Bay Speech.

What are some therapy goals for adults who clutter?

Therapy goals may include: slowing speech rate, formulating concise ideas, practicing rhythmic speech for clear articulation, and breathing naturally. Adults who clutter are often asked to repeat what they say because their listener does not understand their fast speech. Adults who clutter are often asked to slow their speech rate, yet without therapy techniques, they are unable to self-monitor their fluency.

Granite Bay Speech really customizes and listens to your needs. She tailored a program to assist my 10 year old daughter with cluttering and "r" pronunciation. She was always on time and provided amazing and positive instructions to me and my daughter. She is friendly and highly successful at getting results. Loved our experience working with her.

Janis H.

My son has been receiving speech in the school system for 2 years with little to no progress. They were ready to graduate him and stop speech services because they didn't understand the problem. We have been seeing Nancy for the last 9 months and I am happy to say that she figured out what the true underlying issue is, (cluttering) and he has been making great progress. He will officially graduate in a few months, thanks to Granite Bay Speech!

Jordan C.