Additional behaviours, referred to as secondary or accessory behaviours, can occur as a person stutters and attempts to minimize, avoid or escape from a stutter. Secondary behaviours can involve the face or body and can be vocal or verbal. There is sometimes physical (muscular) tension involved and there may be pitch and loudness changes in the person’s voice.
The following are some examples of possible secondary behaviours:
- Looking away, eye blinks, widening the eyes, pressing the lips together tightly, opening the mouth widely, grimacing, tensing the neck muscles, tense inhalations, forceful exhalation, holding the breath, running out of air, head, arm, torso, or leg movement, tremor
- Prefacing stuttered words with interjections such as “uh”, adding unnecessary words, restarting, revising, speaking while inhaling, grunting, making inappropriate noises
While repetition, sound prolongation and blocking are common across persons who stutter, secondary behaviours make each person’s stuttering pattern unique. They may be minimal or subtle in some persons.