What is Stuttering?
Stuttering, or the repetition or prolonging of sounds and syllables during speech, is a communication disorder that can affect a child’s quality of life. The negative effects of stuttering can include loss of confidence, embarrassment, low performance in academic matters, and being made fun of by peers. Because of these social and educational side effects, parents are often eager to seek help for their child’s stuttering.
Stuttering in children is not uncommon. Around 5% of all children stutter for at least some period in their life; this generally occurs in children who are between the ages of 2-5 as this is when they are developing language skills. Most of these children will outgrow their stuttering naturally after a few weeks or even a few years. If your child has been stuttering for 3-6 months, it is advisable that you have him or her evaluated by a speech therapist.
Causes of Stuttering
There are two types of stuttering: developmental and neurological. Stuttering can be diagnosed and treated by a speech-language pathologist (SLP), a health professional trained in the treatment of language disorders. And SLP’s will also be able to predict if your child is likely to outgrow his or her stuttering or not.
Possible Treatment Paths
Unfortunately, a cure for stuttering does not exist though there are many available treatments that can work if administered over time. Working with a speech-language pathologist will help you determine the right treatment options for your child and help prevent a possible lifelong problem. While stuttering therapy will vary based on the specific needs of your child, there are some techniques which are most often used to achieve fluency:
- Prolonging speech
- Airflow therapies
- Vocal control techniques
- Anxiety reduction
- Rhythmic speech methods
- Attitudinal therapy
While some medications do exist that have been shown to help reduce stuttering, their side effects are generally undesirable and so they are not often prescribed.
What Parents Can Do
Parents are encouraged to practice these things in order to support and encourage their child’s stuttering therapy and fluency development:
- Provide relaxed environments and opportunities in the home for the child to speak, especially when your child is excited or has a lot to say
- Do not act negatively when your child stutters; instead, offer gentle corrections or react positively to fluent speech
- Try to reduce any pressure that your child speak in a certain way or perform verbally on the spot
- Reduce time pressures on speaking by making yourself talk in a relaxed or slowed manner
- Avoid interrupting your child and instead listen attentively while the child strives for the intended word
- If your child voices concerns about his or her stuttering, have an open conversation about the issue
Chicago Speech Therapists Help Combat Stuttering