Is your child struggling with a stutter? Maybe it’s come on all of a sudden or has been stubbornly sticking around. In either case, stuttering can often catch parents off-guard and cause worries to spring up about how permanent this sudden change may be. Here are 5 things to know about stuttering and what you can do to help.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is sometimes called disfluency and is defined as the disruption in the normal patterns of speech. This can present in different ways such as the repetition of a sound or syllable at the beginning of a word like “c-c-cat”. Sometimes it can present as a constant break in speech with words like”uh” and “um” being repeated. Other times, it can be the prolongation of a sound like “aaaaand”.
Stuttering is more common than you think.
About one third of children have a stutter-like speech dysfluency at some point in their language development and about one fifth have stuttering issues that can cause parents concern.
Stuttering generally occurs between 18 and 24 months of age and can come and go up to 5 years old. It’s most common in children who are learning to form sentences as this process is complex and can understandably present some issues.
Stuttering generally doesn’t have just one cause
If it seems that the stuttering just popped up out of nowhere, it’s probably because it was caused by a slew of things.
Family dynamics can be an underlying cause if the child is in a high-pressure or fast paced home environment.
Family history is currently a topic of discussion as to whether or not stuttering can be linked to genetics. But it has been shown that almost 60% of stutterers have someone in the family who also stutters.
Neurological factors are always a possibility as well. Speaking and interpreting language goes through a complex process in the brain which can easily be hindered or affected by developmental issues, neurophysiology, etc.
There is no cure for stuttering
Unfortunately stuttering cannot be cured. There are, however, behavioral methods and intervention techniques that have shown great success with improving speech.
There are also techniques and methods that, if severe, a speech pathologist can give your child to improve and hopefully stop the progression of stuttering.
When you should get professional help
Generally, if your child is becoming increasingly hard to understand and you’re starting to notice other language development issues, it’s a good idea to get your child evaluated by a Speech- Language Pathologist.
Here are a few other signs that may mean it’s a good idea to schedule an evaluation:
* Stuttering that is accompanied by body or facial movements
* Speech that is especially difficult or strained
* Avoiding situations that require talking
* Vocal tension that results in rising pitch while talking
* Stuttering that continues after a child has turned 5 years old
Once evaluated, a speech therapist will normally determine the severity of the speech disfluency and prepare a treatment plan specific to your child’s needs to improve their speech. Even though there is no cure, don’t get discouraged. Speech therapists and the techniques that are generally used to treat stuttering have proven to be highly beneficial and with early intervention, can greatly improve children’s speech.