Advice for parents of a child who stutters
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder that usually begins when children are 2 or 3 years old. Stuttering involves involuntary repetition, or getting stuck when saying sounds, words or phrases. The cause of stuttering is not known but it is believed to be the result of a speech-motor programming problem.
How can I tell if my child has a stutter?
Sometimes it may be difficult for a parent or teacher to decide if they are hearing normal or stuttered speech. While the diagnosis of stuttering may not be easy for a parent, speech pathologists are expert at this.
You should take your child to a speech pathologist if you see or hear the following:
• long delays before sounds
• sounds or words being repeated
• sounds being stretched out
• your child looking uncomfortable when he speaks
• your child telling you his words are getting stuck
• or you suspect your child may be stuttering (Parents are usually correct!)
Should I wait to treat my child’s stuttering?
Accurate identification of stuttering is very important because treatment is most effective when a child is younger than 6 years. It is true that many children who begin to stutter will stop without treatment but ignoring stuttering can be harmful because if it does continue, it can seriously impact a person’s life (Langevin et al, 1998). It is therefore essential to place the decision about whether a child does or does not need treatment in the hands of a professional.
Langevin, M., Bortnick, K., Hammer, T., & Weibe, E. (1998). Teasing/bullying experienced by children who stutter. Towards development of a questionnaire. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 25, 12-24