Cluttering is a speech and language disorder, which while sharing some characteristics with stuttering, differs in many important respects. Unlike stuttering, it has been surprisingly underresearched (although there are now signs that this is beginning to change), and generally, the disorder has been underrepresented in the literature. Because of this, many clinicians have been unaware of the disorder, mistaking it for stuttering and other disorders. How¬ever, like stuttering, it has proved hard to define succinctly, in large part because, as we will see, there is disagreement as to which features are essential for the disorder to be diagnosed and which are coincidental.
As is the case with stuttering, defining cluttering presents us with a problem due to differences of opinion as to which of the behaviours associated with the disorder are crucial to its diagnosis and which are peripheral. In an early definition Weiss (1964, p. 1) takes a holistic approach to its description:
Cluttering is a speech disorder characterized by the clutterer’s unaware¬ness of his disorder, by short attention span, by disturbances in perception,
articulation and formulation of speech and often speed of delivery. It is a disorder of the thought processes preparatory to speech and based on a hereditary disposition. Cluttering is the verbal manifestation of central language imbalance, which affects all channels of communication (e.g., reading, writing, rhythm, and musicality) and behaviour in general.
St Louis (1992, p. 49) defines cluttering as: “a speech/language disorder”, and cites its chief characteristics as “(1) abnormal fluency which is not stuttering and (2) a rapid and/or irregular speech rate”. Wohl (1970) on the other hand considered festinant speech (where speech becomes faster and faster) to be the outstanding feature. Although all these definitions cover similar areas, there are significant differences amongst them. Weiss does not mention accelerated speech rate. St