chapter  7
15 Pages

Cluttering and learning disabilities: Yvonne van Zaalen, Frank Wijnen, and Philipe H. Dejonckere


The co-occurrence of cluttering and learning disabilities has interested researchers for many decades. According to Gregory (1995), the disorder of cluttering provides us with one obvious example of how much speech, language, and learning disabilities have in common. Preus (1996) stated that cluttering has more in common with learning disabilities than with stuttering. The coherence of problems in cluttering and learning disabilities exists, for many researchers, mainly with regard to problems in expression, reading, and writing (Daly & Burnett, 1996; Mensink-Ypma, 1990; St. Louis, 1992; St. Louis, Myers, Bakker, & Raphael, 2007; Tiger, Irvine, & Reis, 1980; Ward, 2006; Weiss, 1964). Daly outlines some co-occurring features between the two disorders, thus: ‘Children with the following symptoms: impulsive, disorderly, inattentive, underachieving in school, specific reading problems and problems in language production, can easily belong to one of both categories’ (1996, p. 54). Since the definition of cluttering was narrowed (St. Louis, Raphael, Myers, & Bakker, 2003; St. Louis et al., 2007), the differences and similarities between cluttering and learning disabilities have become clearer. St. Louis et al. (2007, pp. 299-300) use a description of symptoms in their working definition of cluttering:

Cluttering is a fluency disorder characterized by a rate that is perceived to be abnormally rapid, irregular, or both for the speaker (although measured syllable rates may not exceed normal limits). These rate abnormalities further are manifest in one or more of the following symptoms: (a) an excessive number of disfluencies, the majority of which are not typical of people who stutter; (b) the frequent placement of pauses and use of prosodic patterns that do not conform to syntactic and semantic constraints; and (c) inappropriate (usually excessive) degrees of coarticulation among sounds, especially in multisyllabic words.