Stuttering – Bumpy talking – Why can’t my child get his or her words out?

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a disorder whereby the child's (or adult's) talking is not fluent or doesn’t flow smoothly. The child knows what they want to say but just can’t get the words out. The term 'stammering' is used in the United Kingdom, but means the same thing.

There are different types of stuttering and a child may have one or several of these:

Sound repetition
  • It’s a b..b…
  • C..c..can I have a icecream?
Whole word repetition
  • Mum, Mum, Mum I can’t find my school bag
  • I, I, I, I, want to go on the slide
  • Where, where, where is Jack?
Part word repetition
  • Da, Dad, da, daddy gave me that
  • I really like ri, ri, rid, riding my bike
  • Gi, gi, give it back
Phrase repetition
  • I want, I want, I want a drink
  • I can go, I can go, I can go by myself
  • Um, ah, oh, er, etc.
  • Where ah, ah is my coat?
  • I want oh, oh to go to the park
  • Wheeeeeeeeeen are we going?
  • I found it in the carrrrrrrrrrrr
  • I....... (No sound but lips in position for the sound) want that one please

Sometimes children also develop non-verbal movements associated with their stutter such as blinking, head nodding, facial grimacing.

Most children begin to stutter between the ages of 2 and 5 years when their speech and language is developing. The stutter may get worse during the day when the child is tired, excited, nervous, arguing, competing over siblings for attention, feeling pressure to speak quickly or speaking to someone new. Most people who stutter are more fluent when singing, whispering, and reading aloud with someone. Stuttering may also come and go throughout the day, throughout the week or month.

Will it go away naturally?

Some stuttering does recover naturally, however there are certain types of stuttering that evidence shows, requires stuttering therapy to resolve. It is recommended to get a speech pathology assessment if there is a family history of stuttering, the stuttering has persisted for 3 -6 months, your child is feeling frustrated or upset or you are feeling concerned. Research shows that stuttering therapy has better outcomes for younger children that adults.

How can a Speech Pathologist help?

The speech pathologist will provide therapy plans for in the clinic and home. The therapy games aim to train your child to speak fluently and with confidence. Types of treatment vary according to the age of your child and the severity of their stutter.

The best practice treatment for pre-school children who stutter is called the Lidcombe Program. This program is a behaviourally-based intervention that trains parents/caregiver to treat stuttering at home. The children attend therapy once a week, and then practice daily speech tasks at home with their parents. Parent involvement is essential in the Lidcombe Program.

Further Information

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