By: Valerie Heneghan, M.A., CCC-SLP/L
You may have noticed that your child appears to be getting stuck on words or repeating words and sounds recently, what do you do? Your friends and/or family may have told you not to worry about it as they will likely grow out of the problem, is this true? How can you tell if my child is stuttering? When do I seek help for this problem?
In this post, you will be provided with a brief summary addressing questions related to childhood stuttering.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), in preschool age the prevalence of stuttering can be as great as eleven percent. The prevalence of stuttering is also greater in boys than girls up to 4:1 as the stuttering progresses.
Characteristics of Stuttering
Disfluency is anything that interrupts the forward flow of speech. Stuttering occurs when this disruption occurs within a word.
There are two forms of stuttering:
1) Sound/Syllable Repetition: repeating a single sound or syllable (e.g., g-g-g-going, bi-bi-cycle, etc.) and 2) Sound Prolongations; pausing or stretching out single sound (e.g, g__oing, ____bicycle).
Associated and/or secondary characteristics may also be present for a child who stutters. These are described as movements as a reaction to the stuttering including but not limited to: distracting sounds, facial grimaces, head movements, movement of the extremities, etc.
Stuttering is a disorder of childhood with typically emerges between the ages of two and a half and five years old. While genetics and neurophysiology appear to be related to the underlying causes of stuttering, environmental factors, temperament, and speaking demands may influence a child’s reactions to stuttering.
80% of children will outgrow stuttering within four years. During the first year however, 12% recover spontaneously. Indicators that your child may continue to stutter includes but not limited to: no changes in frequency of stuttering, changes in stuttering type, persistence of associated behaviors six months post onset, family history of stuttering, increased communication demands, etc.
When therapy is recommended
If you notice that your child is stuttering, mark when you first noticed the problem begin. Initially, do not draw attention to the stuttering, decrease the communication demands and model slow and smooth speech when speaking to or near your child.
If you are concerned about your child’s stuttering, have them evaluated by a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in assessing and treating children who stutter.