How to help a child who stutters

When your child is in the midst of a great jump in his language skills (between ages 30 months and 5 years) it’s natural that he should have difficulty putting his sentences together in a fluent way. His brain is like a computer, desperately trying to pull up the right words in the right order. While the computer is “searching,” his mouth may go into a “pause” (translated: repeat) mode. So it may sound like this: “Mom . I-Mom . I-I-want-uh-I want you-gimme dat teddy bear!” The whole word or first syllable is repeated, not the first sound. This is a normal developmental phase that most children go through. You may notice it more when your child is tired, excited, or upset.

This stumbling over words is different from a true stuttering problem (also called dysfluency or disfluency), which affects only 5 percent of children and is very unusual in toddlers. If your child is truly stuttering, he may hold out the first sound in a word, saying “s-s-s-soda,” or repeat the sound, as in “Sh-sh-she nice!” He may also open his mouth to say something, but get stuck before any sound comes out. Along with this “blocking,” you may see tension in his jaw or cheeks, and he may look away or clench his fist from the tension.

Children (and adults, too) tend to stutter when they’re upset, uncomfortable, angry, or even just plain excited. If your child is stuttering only at these times, and the stuttering is mild, don’t be in a rush to get him evaluated. If he’s really struggling with blockages, however, or he hasn’t improved within three to six months, speak to his pediatrician, or, if he’s in preschool, with his teacher. His school may be able to refer you to an early intervention program (usually coordinated through the county or public school system) that will provide a free screening, and his doctor can refer you to a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation.

For years, it was thought that preschoolers were too young to begin formal speech therapy for stuttering – that it would only make them self-conscious. Most practitioners now feel, though, that a child with a severe stutter (usually measured in number of repeated or prolonged sounds and blocks) can benefit from early intervention. If exercises are presented as fun games, even a 3-year-old can learn strategies to reduce the frequency and severity of stuttering episodes.

You can also take steps at home. Whether your child is simply going through a normal dysfluent stage or exhibiting a true stutter, the way in which you respond is important. Keep your voice slow, soft, and relaxed – think Mr. Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. If you are a rapid staccato talker, try to slow down so your child doesn’t feel the need to respond in a similar manner. Don’t tell him to slow down, though – just speak slowly and he’ll follow your lead. Maintain eye contact and be patient. Get on the floor and get comfortable. Smile. If you turn away and act hurried, your child will feel pressure to “get it out” and this will only make it worse. If you look frustrated, your child will pick up on this and be even more self-conscious. There is no need at this point to let him know his stuttering is frustrating or worrisome for you. For more information and resources, call the Stuttering Foundation of America at (800) 992-9392.

In this Article

  • What Is Stuttering?
  • Causes of Stuttering
  • Risk Factors for Stuttering
  • Treatment for Stuttering
  • Tips for Parents of a Stuttering Child

It is not uncommon for a child between the ages of 2 and 5 to have a period of temporary stuttering. This is a crucial time of speech and language development. The stutter may persist for a couple of weeks or months. While most stuttering is outgrown, rarely a stutter can persist into adulthood. Whether or not your child’s stutter is temporary or permanent, you should learn all you can so you have the resources you need to help your stuttering child.

What Is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects more than 3 million Americans, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Disorders. Stuttering occurs when normal speech is interrupted by the repetition or extension of certain sounds or words. Stuttering, also called stammering, can range in frequency and intensity from mild to severe. Sometimes, speaking in front of a group or talking on the telephone can aggravate the condition, while singing or reading can reduce stuttering. Stress can sometimes make it worse. The struggle to speak may be accompanied by physical gestures or movements.

Causes of Stuttering

Experts don’t know for sure what causes stuttering in a child, but most believe that the speech disorder occurs as the result of a variety of factors. They may include one or more of the following:

  • Genetics. Most experts agree that stuttering has a genetic component. Sixty percent of all people who stutter have a close family member who also stutters.
  • Developmental stuttering. Many young children go through a period of stuttering beginning at the age of 18 months to 2 years, as they hone their speech and language skills. This form of stuttering is usually temporary.
  • Neurological factors. Research has found that people who stutter process language differently than those without the speech disorder. In some cases, there seems to be a problem in the way language is transmitted through the brain. Scientists don’t know exactly why this occurs.

Risk Factors for Stuttering

How do you know whether a stuttering child has a temporary developmental problem, or a more serious speech disorder that warrants intervention? According to the Stuttering Foundation, the following factors put your child at greater risk:

  • Family. Your child is at higher risk if they has one or more family members who stutter in adulthood.
  • Age. Children who begin stuttering before they reach age 3ВЅ are more likely to outgrow it.
  • Length of time stuttering persists. If your child’s stuttering habit lasts longer than 6 months, it is less likely that they will outgrow it.
  • Gender. Boys are three to four times as likely as girls to stutter.
  • Other speech and language deficits. If your child has other problems speaking and being understood, it is less likely that they will outgrow their stutter.

Treatment for Stuttering

Many parents are reluctant to seek speech therapy for their stuttering child because they don’t want to increase their child’s self-consciousness about the speech disorder. Experts agree that if your child is over age 3 and has been stuttering for three to six months, you should probably seek a speech evaluation. That’s because your stuttering child may have more than a temporary developmental problem. Find a speech therapist who specializes in stuttering. The therapist can help you decide whether or not your child needs intervention.

Most children with prolonged stuttering can benefit from speech therapy. In some cases, the problem is completely eliminated; in other cases, it gets much better. Whatever the final outcome, speech therapy should boost your child’s confidence as they learn to manage stuttering and improve speaking skills.

Tips for Parents of a Stuttering Child

Parents can have an enormous effect on how the stuttering child views their disorder and how comfortable they feel in their ability to express themselves and to be heard by those around them. Here are some steps you can take to help your stuttering child:

  • Try to speak slowly and calmly to your stuttering child. Encourage the other adults in your child’s life to do the same.
  • Try to maintain a calm, quiet atmosphere at home.
  • Pay attention to what your child is saying, not the way they are saying it. This will require you to slow down and pay attention. Don’t show impatience or irritation when your child is talking to you.
  • Don’t offer suggestions such as, “Slow down,” or “Can you say that more clearly?”
  • Minimize questions and interruptions when your child is speaking.
  • Never call attention to your child’s stutter or other speech disorder.
  • Try to make time each day for one-on-one time with your child.

Sources

Mayo Clinic: “Stuttering in Children: Is it Normal?”В

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: “Stuttering,”В

The Stuttering Foundation: “Facts on Stuttering;”В “7 Ways to Help the Child Who Stutters;”В “Risk Factors;”В В “Stuttering Therapy for Children;” “Finding Help;”В “Etiology;” and “Should My Child Attend Speech Therapy?”В

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center: “Stuttering (Disfluency).”В

What Is Stuttering?

Many young kids go through a stage between the ages of 2 and 5 when they stutter. This might make them:

  • repeat certain syllables, words, or phrases
  • prolong them
  • stop, making no sound for certain sounds and syllables

Stuttering is a form of dysfluency (dis-FLOO-en-see), an interruption in the flow of speech.

In many cases, stuttering goes away on its own by age 5. In some kids, it goes on for longer. Effective treatments are available to help a child overcome it.

What Causes Stuttering?

Doctors and scientists aren’t completely sure why some kids stutter. But most believe that a few things contribute to it, such as a problem with the way the brain’s messages interact with the muscles and body parts needed for speaking.

Many believe that stuttering may be genetic. Kids who stutter are three times more likely to have a close family member who also stutters, or did.

What Are the Signs of Stuttering?

The first signs of stuttering tend to appear when a child is about 18–24 months old. At this age, there’s a burst in vocabulary and kids are starting to put words together to form sentences. To parents, the stuttering may be upsetting and frustrating, but it is natural for kids to do some stuttering at this stage. Be as patient with your child as possible.

A child may stutter for a few weeks or several months, and the stuttering may come and go. Most kids who begin stuttering before the age of 5 stop without any need for help such as speech or language therapy.

But if your child’s stuttering happens a lot, gets worse, or happens along with body or facial movements, seeing a speech-language therapist around age 3 is a good idea.

Usually, stuttering lets up when kids enter elementary school and start sharpening their communication skills. A school-age child who continues to stutter is likely aware of the problem and may be embarrassed by it. Classmates and friends may draw attention to it or even tease the child.

If this happens with your child, talk to the teacher, who can address this in the classroom with the kids. The teacher also might decrease the number of stressful speaking situations for your child until speech therapy begins.

When to Get Help

If your child is 5 years old and still stuttering, talk to your doctor or a speech-language therapist. Check with a speech therapist if your child:

  • tries to avoid situations that require talking
  • changes a word for fear of stuttering
  • has facial or body movements along with the stuttering
  • repeats whole words and phrases often and consistently
  • repeats sounds and syllables more often
  • has speech that sounds very strained

Also talk to the therapist if:

  • you notice increased facial tension or tightness in your child’s speech muscles
  • you notice vocal tension that causes rising pitch or loudness
  • you have other concerns about your child’s speech

Most schools will offer testing and appropriate therapy if stuttering lasts for 6 months or more.

How Can Parents Help?

Try these steps to help your child:

  • Don’t require your child to speak precisely or correctly at all times. Allow talking to be fun and enjoyable.
  • Use family meals as a conversation time. Avoid distractions such as radio or TV.
  • Avoid corrections or criticisms such as “slow down,” “take your time,” or “take a deep breath.” These comments, however well-intentioned, will only make your child feel more self-conscious.
  • Avoid having your child speak or read aloud when uncomfortable or when the stuttering increases. Instead, during these times encourage activities that do not require a lot of talking.
  • Don’t interrupt your child or tell him or her to start over.
  • Don’t tell your child to think before speaking.
  • Provide a calm atmosphere in the home. Try to slow down the pace of family life.
  • Speak slowly and clearly when talking to your child or others in his or her presence.
  • Maintain eye contact with your child. Try not to look away or show signs of being upset.
  • Let your child speak for himself or herself and to finish thoughts and sentences. Pause before responding to your child’s questions or comments.
  • Talk slowly to your child. This takes practice! Modeling a slow rate of speech will help with your child’s fluency.

How to help a child who stuttersDownload a PDF of the brochure.

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1. Speak with your child in an unhurried way, pausing frequently. Wait a few seconds after your child finishes speaking before you begin to speak. Your own slow, relaxed speech will be far more effective than any criticism or advice such as “slow down” or “try it again slowly.”

2. Reduce the number of questions you ask your child. Children speak more freely if they are expressing their own ideas rather than answering an adult’s questions. Instead of asking questions, simply comment on what your child has said, thereby letting him know you heard him.

3. Use your facial expressions and other body language to convey to your child that you are listening to the content of her message and not to how she’s talking.

4. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child. During this time, let the child choose what he would like to do. Let him direct you in activities and decide himself whether to talk or not. When you talk during this special time, use slow, calm, and relaxed speech, with plenty of pauses. This quiet, calm time can be a confidence-builder for younger children, letting them know that a parent enjoys their company. As the child gets older, it can be a time when the child feels comfortable talking about his feelings and experiences with a parent.

5. Help all members of the family learn to take turns talking and listening. Children, especially those who stutter, find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions and they have the listeners’ attention.

6. Observe the way you interact with your child. Try to increase those times that give your child the message that you are listening to her and she has plenty of time to talk. Try to decrease criticisms, rapid speech patterns, interruptions, and questions.

7. Above all, convey that you accept your child as he is. The most powerful force will be your support of him, whether he stutters or not.

Short on Time? – Skip to our checklist below

Children learn language at a very fast pace. In just a few short years, they go from crying to have their needs met, to speaking in complete sentences! With this, parents may hear their child start to stutter or stammer, which is a repetition or prolongation of a sound, word or phrase.

Many children go through a typical, developmentally appropriate stage of stuttering (stammering) between the ages of 2-5 years. This often coincides with a burst of language development, especially when children are learning to put words into sentences.

There is no known cause for stuttering, and there is no one thing a parent can do that would cause their child to stutter.

Most children will spontaneously recover on their own, though their stuttering may last weeks or even months, and may even wax and wane. It can be difficult for parents to hear their child starting to stutter, but a call to your local speech and language therapist isn’t always necessary.

What can I do?

If your child is stuttering, there are some things you can do at home to support your child:

  • While your child is stuttering, wait patiently and allow them to finish their sentence. Do not finish their sentence for them or tell them to ‘spit it out.’
  • Slightly decrease your rate of speech, or how fast you talk. Many children who stutter speak very quickly and modelling a slower pace can help them to learn to slow themselves down.
  • When your child stutters, respond to WHAT he said, not HOW he said it.
  • When your child stutters, repeat back to them what they said, modelling slow and easy/relaxed speech.
  • When you are speaking with your child, make sure they know you are listening by getting onto their level and giving them eye contact.
  • Make a rule in your household that each person gets their time to speak without being interrupted. In busy households, it’s very easy to speak over each other. The child who stutters needs to finish what they are saying without being interrupted.
  • Practice speaking ‘easy’ with your child, using a more relaxed voice. Reading books together can be a great place to practice. It also gives you some one to one time with your child!
  • The Colorado Centre for Stuttering Therapy has created a helpful acronym, R.E.S.T. to help remind parents of how to speak and respond /interact with their child who stutters:
    • R- Repeat back (what the child said)
    • E- Eye contact
    • S- Slow, easy speech
    • T- Turn taking
  • You can also download The Stuttering Foundation’s 7 Tips for Talking with Your Child which is a handy printable for posting on your fridge or wall.
  • You can also take the CATTS ‘How to help a child who is stuttering course‘ on our online training system. (This is a short briefing, and is very useful to show to relatives/ childminders/ grandparents who the child may be in regular contact with, so you can build a supportive, understanding network around him).

Of course, when it doubt, it is always better to refer your child for a speech and language therapy assessment if you are concerned, as early intervention is key to managing and treating many childhood disorders.

So when is it time to ring the therapist?

If your child has been stuttering for a few months and you are unsure if the stuttering is becoming a problem, there are some things you can look out for which may indicate that your child will need the support of a speech and language therapist. Use our quick screener below to check for yourself.

You should contact one of our Speech and Language Therapists if you check ‘Yes’ to any of these questions.
You may benefit from Online Speech and Language Therapy.

References

If you have any questions about any of the above, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

About Stuttering

We all have times when we do not speak smoothly. We may add “uh” or “you know” to what we say. Or, we may say a sound or word more than once. These are called disfluencies.

People who stutter may have more disfluencies and different types of disfluencies. They may repeat parts of words (repetitions), stretch a sound out for a long time (prolongations), or have a hard time getting a word out (blocks).

Stuttering is more than just disfluencies. Stuttering also may include tension and negative feelings about talking. It may get in the way of how you talk to others. You may want to hide your stuttering. So, you may avoid certain words or situations. For example, you may not want to talk on the phone if that makes you stutter more.

Stuttering can change from day to day. You may have times when you are fluent and times when you stutter more. Stress or excitement can lead to more stuttering.

Signs and Symptoms of Stuttering

The following typical disfluencies happen to many of us and are not stuttering:

  • Adding a sound or word, called an interjection – “I um need to go home.”
  • Repeating whole words – “Well well, I don’t agree with you.”
  • Repeating phrases – “He is–he is 4 years old.”
  • Changing the words in a sentence, called revision – “I had–I lost my tooth.”
  • Not finishing a thought – “His name is . . . I can’t remember.”

When children are learning a lot of words or new speech sounds, you may notice some of these typical disfluencies. This is normal.

The following types of disfluencies happen when someone stutters:

  • Part-word repetitions – “I w-w-w-want a drink.”
  • One-syllable word repetitions – “Go-go-go away.”
  • Prolonged sounds – “Ssssssssam is nice.”
  • Blocks or stops – “I want a (pause) cookie.”

You may also notice other behaviors like head nodding or eye blinking. Sometimes people who stutter use these behaviors to stop or keep from stuttering. They may also avoid using certain words or use different words to keep from stuttering.

Feelings and attitudes can affect stuttering. For example, frustration or tension can cause more disfluencies. Being excited or feeling rushed can also increase disfluencies. A person who stutters may also stutter more if others tease them or bring attention to their speech. Stuttering may cause a person to be embarrassed and make them feel nervous about talking.

Causes of Stuttering

Stuttering usually starts between 2 and 6 years of age. Many children go through normal periods of disfluency lasting less than 6 months. Stuttering lasting longer than this may need treatment.

There is no one cause of stuttering. Possible causes include the following:

  • Family history. Many people who stutter have a family member who also stutters.
  • Brain differences. People who stutter may have small differences in the way their brain works during speech.

You cannot always know which children will continue to stutter, but the following factors may place them at risk:

  • Gender. Boys are more likely to continue stuttering than girls. Data are currently limited to individuals who identify as male or female.
  • Age when stuttering began. Children who start stuttering at age 3½ or later are more likely to continue stuttering.
  • Family recovery patterns. Children with family members who continued to stutter are also more likely to continue.

Seeing A Professional

If you think your child stutters, get help from an SLP as early as possible. Early help can reduce the chances that your child will keep stuttering. Contact an SLP if any of the following things happen:

  1. Your child’s stuttering has lasted for 6–12 months or more.
  2. Your child starts to stutter late (after 3½ years old).
  3. Your child starts to stutter more often.
  4. Your child tenses up or struggles when talking.
  5. Your child avoids talking or says it is too hard to talk.
  6. There is a family history of stuttering.

Testing For Stuttering

It’s not easy to tell if your child stutters. Stuttering is more than disfluencies, so it is important to see an SLP for testing. The SLP will look at the following things:

  • The types of disfluencies (typical and stutter-like).
  • The number of disfluencies that are the stuttering type.
  • How your child reacts when they stutter – do they get upset?
  • How your child tries to “fix” their speech – do they start over or stop talking?

The SLP will ask if your child’s stuttering affects the way they play with others, or if stuttering makes it harder for them to participate in school. The SLP will use all of this information to decide if your child stutters or not.

The SLP will also test your child’s speech and language. This includes how your child says sounds and words, how well they understand what others say, and how well they use words to talk about their thoughts.

Treatment For Stuttering

There are different ways to help with stuttering. A treatment team usually includes you, your child, other family members, and your child’s teacher. Treatment will depend one or more of the following:

  • How much your child stutters
  • How your child reacts when stuttering
  • How stuttering impacts your child’s everyday life
  • How others react to your child when they stutter
  • Your child’s age

Treatment For Preschool Children Who Stutter

For preschool children, treatment may include the use of direct or indirect strategies.

  • Direct strategies help your child change how they speak.
  • Indirect strategies are ways to help make it easier for your child to talk. These strategies can include slowing down your own speech and asking fewer questions.

You are an important part of your child’s treatment. The SLP can help you learn more about how to respond when your child stutters and what to do to improve how your child feels about talking.

Treatment For Older Children and Adults Who Stutter

For older children and adults, treatment focuses on managing stuttering. An SLP will help them feel less tense and speak more freely in school, at work, and in different social settings. The SLP will also help the person face speaking situations that make them fearful or anxious. This might include speaking on the phone or ordering food at a restaurant.

Some adults who started stuttering as a child may want to see an SLP every once in a while. The SLP will talk to the person about how stuttering affects their everyday life and can help the person practice ways to manage stuttering.

Children and adults who stutter may want to look into local support groups, where they can talk with others who stutter and learn about other helpful resources.

See ASHA information for professionals on the Practice Portal’s Fluency Disorders page.

Other Resources

This list does not include every website on this topic. ASHA does not endorse the information on these sites.

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Treatment for stuttering includes individualized goals that focus on increasing fluency, reducing secondary/avoidance behaviors (if applicable), improving self-confidence, and supporting the child and his/her family.

Treatment can begin after a child receives a stuttering diagnosis. The earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome.

Individual VS Group Treatment

Indirect Treatment (environment):

  • Provide counseling to families
  • Implement changes to the child’s environment such as reducing rate of speech at home, indirect prompts, and modeling of fluent speech

Direct Treatment (altering a child’s speech):

  • Practice speech modification strategies (see below)
  • Practice fluency strategies (see below)

Indirect VS Direct Treatment

Indirect Treatment (environment):

  • Provide counseling to families
  • Implement changes to the child’s environment such as reducing rate of speech at home, indirect prompts, and modeling of fluent speech

Direct Treatment (altering child’s speech):

  • Practice speech modification strategies (see below)
  • Practice fluency strategies (see below)

Speech Modification Strategies

Speech modification strategies are designed to enhance/create fluent speech. The strategies below are used to alter a child’s breath, articulation, and rate of speech.

  • Slow rate of speech
  • Continuous phonation
  • Easy onset (start speaking with reduced tension and possibly phonation)
  • Light contacts (lightly use articulators when talking)
  • Stretchy speech (prolongate a “stuttering word/sound” and keep talking)
  • Pausing/chunking

Stuttering Modification Strategies

Stuttering modification strategies help to bring awareness of stuttering to the child and reduce any physical tension or struggle.

Some examples include:

  • Pull-out (requires self-awareness): When a child has a dysfluency, the child uses a speech modification strategy and decreases/stops the stutter.
  • Cancellation (requires self-awareness): When a child stutters on a word, the child stops and repeats the word using a speech modification strategy.
  • Desensitization: Talk about fears of stuttering in a supportive environment.
  • Self-disclosure: A child tells others that he/she stutters and gives information about it.
  • Stuttering on purpose: A child purposely stutters to gain “control” over his/her stuttering

Counseling

A large portion of stuttering treatment will be to counsel the child and his/her family on stuttering.

Many children and family members have a lot of fear wrapped up in stuttering and it is your job as an SLP to ease these fears, discuss and help reduce anxiety, and come up with strategies to support your client.

Generalization Ideas

Once a child can use strategies within the therapy room, he/she has to use those strategies outside the therapy room.

This can be a hard transition since the world can be an unpredictable place. There are many environmental stressors that trigger stuttering.

When starting generalization activities, begin with a low-pressure situation. This varies depending on the child.

Once a child is successful in a low-pressure situation, move up to a SLIGHTLY higher pressure situation. Make sure the child can be successful. You want to build confidence!

What is stuttering in children?

Stuttering is a speech problem. The normal flow of speech is disrupted. A child who stutters repeats or prolongs sounds, syllables, or words. Stuttering is different from repeating words when learning to speak. Stuttering may make it difficult for a child to communicate with others.

There are several types of stuttering:

  • Developmental stuttering. This is the most common type of stuttering in children. It usually happens when a child is between ages 2 and 5. It may happen when a child’s speech and language development lags behind what he or she needs or wants to say.
  • Neurogenic stuttering. Neurogenic stuttering may happen after a stroke or brain injury. It happens when there are signal problems between the brain and nerves and muscles involved in speech.
  • Psychogenic stuttering. Psychogenic stuttering is not common. It may happen after emotional trauma. Or it can happen along with problems thinking or reasoning.

What causes stuttering in a child?

Which children are at risk for stuttering?

A child is more likely to stutter if he or she has:

  • A family history of stuttering
  • Stuttered for 6 months or longer
  • Other speech or language disorders
  • Strong emotions about stuttering or family members with fears or concerns

What are the symptoms of stuttering in a child?

Each child’s development is different. A child may have symptoms of stuttering that are part of his or her normal speech and language development. If the symptoms last for 3 to 6 months, he or she may have developmental stuttering. Symptoms of stuttering may vary throughout the day and in different situations. Your child’s symptoms may include:

  • Repeating sounds, syllables, or words, for example, repeating a sound as in W-W-W-What
  • Prolonging sounds, for example, SSSSend
  • Using interjections such as “um” or “like,” for example, I am going – um um like.
  • Talking slowly or with a lot of pauses
  • Stopped or blocked speech. The mouth is open to speak, but nothing is said.
  • Being out of breath or nervous while talking
  • Fast eye blinking or trembling or shaking lips when speaking
  • Increased stuttering when tired, excited, or under stress
  • Being afraid to talk

The symptoms of stuttering can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is stuttering diagnosed in a child?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask you about your family history. He or she will also ask you about your child’s stuttering symptoms. The provider will usually suggest that your child see a certified speech-language pathologist (SLP). This specialist can diagnose and treat speech and language problems. The specialist will:

  • Ask many questions about your child’s speech.
  • Test your child’s ability to speak with different techniques and in various situations.

How is stuttering treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

There is no cure for stuttering. Early treatment can prevent stuttering from continuing into adulthood. Different techniques are used to teach your child skills that can help him or her speak without stuttering. For example, the SLP may teach your child to slow down speech and learn to breathe while speaking.

What are the possible complications of stuttering in a child?

Complications of stuttering may include:

  • Limited participation in some activities
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Poor school performance
  • Social problems

How can I help my child live with stuttering?

Here are tips to help your child manage stuttering:

  • Try to provide a relaxed environment.
  • Set time aside to talk with your child.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you about fun and easy topics.
  • Try not to react in a negative way. Instead, praise your child for correct speech.
  • Don’t interrupt your child while he or she is speaking.
  • Speak slowly to your child. This may help him or her to also speak slowly.
  • Pay attention to your child when he or she speaks.
  • Wait for your child to say words or sentences without saying them for him or her.
  • Talk openly about the stuttering if the child brings up the subject.
  • Educate your child’s teachers and help them provide a school environment that is accepting and safe from bullying.
  • Share your family history of speech and language disorders (if known) with your healthcare provider.

Your child may need follow-up speech therapy to prevent stuttering from returning. He or she may also benefit from counseling or self-help groups.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child:

  • Has stuttering that lasts for more than 6 months
  • Has a fear of talking
  • Is not talking at all
  • Develops problems in school

Key points about stuttering in children

  • Stuttering is a speech problem where the normal flow of speech is disrupted.
  • The 3 types of stuttering are developmental stuttering, neurogenic stuttering, and psychogenic stuttering.
  • The exact cause of stuttering is unknown.
  • A speech-language pathologist diagnoses stuttering by evaluating your child’s speech and language abilities.
  • There is no cure for stuttering. But early treatment may keep stuttering from continuing into adulthood.
  • It is critical that a child who stutters feel accepted and supported by the important adults in their life.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.