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Cluttering - Speech Disorder

Cluttering is a form of speech disfluency characterized by an excessive rate and irregular rhythm of speech, often with condensation of sounds and collapsing of words. It ranges in severity from a form with somewhat annoying, but generally intelligible speech, to a severe disabling form with virtually unintelligible speech. The condition is distinct from stuttering, the person who stutters typically knows exactly what he or she wants to say but is temporarily unable to say it. Therefore the person who clutters typically has disorganized speech planning, they doe not seem to be clear about what they want to say or how to say it.

The definition of cluttering, adopted by the fluency disorders division of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is: "Cluttering is a fluency disorder characterized by a rapid and/or irregular speaking rate, excessive disfluencies, and often other symptoms such as language or phonological errors and attention deficits".

Therefore fluency disorders (ones that are not stuttering), generally meeting the following criteria:

Speech does not sound “fluent”.

Does not seem to be clear about what he or she wants to say or how to say it.

Exhibits excessive levels of “normal disfluencies”, such as interjections and revisions.

Has little or no apparent physical struggle in speaking.

Has few if any accessory (secondary behaviors).

A rapid and/or irregular speaking rate would be present in a speaker who has any or all of the following:

Talks too fast.

Sounds “jerky”

Have pauses that are too short, too long, or improperly placed.

Therefore fluency and rate deviations are the essential symptoms of cluttering.

Associated Features:

Cluttering often occurs along with stuttering.
Articulation Errors.
Sloppy Handwriting.
Memory Abilities.
Coordination, Rhythm, and Speech Melody impairments.
Reading and Writing difficulties.
Tachylalia is common.
Relatives may Stutter or Clutter.

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Phonological Disorder.
Attention Deficit Disorder.
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS).


It has been suggested by some researchers that in most cases, a child’s stuttering began with cluttering. However, since cluttering is neither common nor well understood the causal factor is not known for certain.


Therapy is useful and generally addresses the contributing problems first before focusing directly on fluency. Ordinarily, one of the first goals of therapy is to reduce the speaking rate, although this may not be easy for the clutterer to achieve. Some clutterers respond well to "timing" their speech to a delayed auditory feedback (DAF) device; some do not. In general any therapy techniques that focus attention on fluency targets such as easy onset of the voice, more prolonged syllables, or correct breathing can also help the person to manage many of the cluttering symptoms.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Speech Therapists may perform evaluation and treatment of speech and language disorders.Relaxation and visual imagery exercises may also prove useful.


DSM Code

315.9 Learning Disorder NOS

F98.6 Cluttering

Disorder Sheets

The British Stammering Association
15 Old Ford Road
E2 9PJ
Tel:020-8983 1003
Fax:020-8983 3591
Email: Click Here
Web: Click Here

Recommended Book

Stuttering and Cluttering: Frameworks for Understanding and Treatment - Click Here to View


Cluttering - Speech Disorder

Misc Information



Developmental Disorders