Characteristics of Typical Disfluency and Stuttering

Differentiating typical disfluencies and stuttering is a critical piece of assessment, particularly for preschool children. Without proper intervention, children who exhibit signs of early stuttering are more at risk for continued stuttering. The chart below describes some characteristics of "typical disfluency" and "stuttering" (Adapted from Coleman, 2013).

Typical Disfluency Stuttering
Speech Characteristics
  • Multisyllabic whole-word and phrase repetitions
  • Interjections
  • Revisions
Speech Characteristics
  • Sound or syllable repetitions
  • Prolongations
  • Blocks

Other Behaviors

  • No physical tension or struggle
  • No secondary behaviors¬†
  • No negative reaction or¬†frustration
  • No family history of stuttering

Other Behaviors

  • Associated physical tension or struggle
  • Secondary behaviors (e.g., eye blinks, facial grimacing, changes in pitch or loudness)
  • Negative reaction or frustration
  • Avoidance behaviors (e.g., reduced verbal output or word/situational avoidances)
  • Family history of stuttering


Coleman, C. (2013). How can you tell if childhood stuttering is the real deal? Available from

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