A Point of View about Fluency


This article presents several potential concerns with the common us- age of the term fluency in the study of stuttering and people who stutter (or, as many speakers now prefer, stutterers). Our goal is to bridge gaps between clinicians, researchers, and stutterers to foster a greater sense of collaboration and understanding regarding the words that are used and meanings that are intended. We begin by reviewing the history of the term fluency. We then explore its usage and current connotations to examine whether the term meaningfully describes constructs that are relevant to the study of the stuttering condition. By highlighting current research and perspectives of stutterers, we conclude that the term fluency (a) is not fully inclusive, (b) encourages the use of misleading measurement procedures, (c) constrains the subjective experience of stuttering within a false binary categorization, and (d) perpetuates a cycle of stigma that is detrimental to stutterers and to the stuttering community as a whole. We recommend that researchers and clinicians cease referring to stuttering as a fluency disorder and simply refer to it as stuttering. Furthermore, we recommend that researchers and clinicians distinguish between moments of stuttering (i.e., what stutterers experience when they lose control of their speech or feel stuck) and the overall lived experience of the stuttering condition.