A question we sometimes receive on ADHD Central is about whether or not stuttering is somehow associated with having ADHD. Some of you have asked about stuttering with relation to certain ADHD medications and some of you have asked if adults with ADHD can have a stuttering problem. The short answer to these questions is yes. In this post we will explore the research we do have about stuttering and ADHD and also what you can do about it.
What is the correlation between ADHD and stuttering?
According to a 2007 Medical News Today article, “Many Kids with ADHD also Stutter,” as many as 26% of children diagnosed with ADHD also have a stuttering problem.
Why? Here are some possible reasons why stuttering may be more of an issue for individuals who have ADHD:
• Stuttering may be part of a larger issue of speech and language impairment. The Stuttering Foundation of America cites an estimate that as many as 45% of children with ADHD also have some form of speech and language impairment. Many of the children who have ADHD and speech and language challenges will have high rates of articulation disorders.
• Many of the co-morbid disorders associated with ADHD can have a significant effect upon one’s ability to organize and formulate thoughts and ideas. These co-morbid disorders may include learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, and depression.
• In a 2001 study reported in the Journal of Neurotherapy, researchers looked at the brain waves of stutterers and individuals having ADHD and found that there were great similarities. They found empirical evidence to suggest that there is an attentional component to stuttering. The researchers concluded that: “There are strong similarities in the EEG, morphology, and behavior of stutterers and individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These similarities suggest that neurofeedback, which has proven successful in the treatment of ADHD, may hold promise as a viable adjunct treatment to traditional speech therapies for stuttering.”
Is there an association between ADHD medications and stuttering behavior?
There may be an association between some ADHD medications and stuttering but the literature is mixed in its reviews of any correlation. In a 2007 Medical News Today article, the author states that recent research indicates that some of the ADHD medications may aggravate stuttering. This article says one ADHD medication which may be used which is not known to exacerbate stuttering is Strattera, which is a non-stimulant type of medication.
There was a 2009 case study published in Perspectives on Fluency and Fluency Disorders which described the effects of Stattera (a non-stimulant ADHD medication) versus Adderall XR (a stimulant medication) on an ADHD child’s stuttering behavior. They found that the stimulant medication increased the 10 year old boy’s stuttering, tics, social anxiety and communication frustration. When he took Strattera they found a 51% reduction in his stuttering behavior.