Does your child have an issue with stuttering?

Many parents begin to notice stuttering like behaviors in their child especially between the ages of 2 and 5, and are concerned. Our goal at Child Language and Developmental Speech is to provide you with some basic information and resources

What is normal and when should I be concerned?

Normal types of disfluencies commonly seen in preschool aged children are: Hesitations (pausing), Revisions of phrases (“I want- I like that”), Interjections (uh, um), Repetitions of phrases (“I need- I need that”), and some repetition of whole words (“Daddy-Daddy-Daddy lets eat”). More atypical or “stuttered” disfluencies are: Repetitions of sounds or syllables within a word (“Ki-ki-ki kick it”), Prolongations of sounds within words (“kiiiiiiiiiiiick it”), and Blocks (“k––ick it”). Also of concern is if the child exhibits physical tension when trying to speak (i.e. facial or body tension).

How can parents and caregivers help their child’s speech?

As their parent and caregiver, it is important first of all to realize, that if a child stutters it is not the child’s or parent’s fault. There are several factors that can predisposition a child to stutter more than others, and a speech-language pathologist can explore underlying factors during a screening and/or evaluation. Secondly, and most importantly, STUTTERING IS NOT BAD! As parents, caregivers, and clinicians we must be sure to communicate healthy and positive reactions to a child who stutters. Here are communication recommendations for parents to use with their child who stutters to promote smoother speech and a more positive communication attitude:

  • Parents should use a slower and more relaxed rate of speech. Not too slow, but parents should pause between phrases. (i.e. “Go upstairs // get your shoes// and your socks.”) 
  • Pause for slightly under a second when responding to your child’s comments or questions. 
  • ListText Try not to fire off a million questions in a row to your child. This can create some communication anxiety with your child. If you ask questions and your child appears anxious, change your “tune” with indirect requests, (i.e. instead of “what do you do on the playground today?” you might say “I wonder if you played on the swings or monkey bars today?”). 
  • Try to prevent other family members (siblings especially) for interrupting your child who stutters. This again can cause communication frustration and anxiety. 
  • If your child struggles with a sentence, and finishes, PRAISE them for good communication attempts! 
  • Finally…STUTTERING IS NOT BAD! Make sure you are having positive interactions and attitudes towards your child’s communication attempts. If they sense that you are shameful or frustrated, they will be as well, which only makes stuttering worse.  
What to do if you are still concerned your child needs to be seen by a speech-language pathologist?

If you are concerned that your pre-school or school-aged child needs to be seen by a speech-language pathologist, we have an excellent team here at Child Language And Developmental Speech. We are available to screen, evaluate, and treat in our clinic, in your home, or at your child’s school. We look forward to providing you and your child with exceptional speech-language services!

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