Stuttering episodes in children are very common. I wanted to give you some information about normal dysfluencies vs. dysfluencies of a child who stutters, risk factors and some tips for how to deal with a child who stutters.
If your child has some difficulty speaking and “hesitates” or repeats sounds, syllables or words he or she may have a stutter. However, your child may be going through a period of developmental dysfluencies. Children going through periodic stuttering often experience this between 1 and 5 years of age. Often they repeat syllable or words one or two times (th-th-this) and utilize filler words (um, uh). Children who have a stutter that may persist repeat sounds more than two times (th-th-th- th-this). They also may have periods where they are attempting to speak however, no words are coming out, this is referred to as a “block”. Children who have a stutter may go through periods of fluent and non-fluent speech, however take note if it begins to become more present then absent.
Some risk factors for stuttering are
• Family history of stuttering
• Stuttering after the age of 5 years
• Stuttering for 6-12 months or longer
• Gender (more common in males)
• Speech sound errors present
• Delay in language skills
AND here are some ways to speak to your child to promote fluent speech!
• Speak to your child in steady, relaxed manor
• Give your child ample time to speak and make sure you listen to them
• Ask questions one at a time
• Make sure to participate in turn taking
• Build up your child’s confidence
• Set aside special time to listen to your child and give them your full attention
• Treat your child just as you would any other, regardless of their stutter!
Try not to:
• Correct their speech
• Constantly to tell them to “Take their time”, “ Relax”, or “Slow Down”
• Interrupt your child when they are speaking
• Look alarmed, embarrassed or look away when he or she is speaking
• Associate any negative words or actions with their speech!
And if you have a child who stutters have them evaluated by an SLP!