Is Stuttering Taking a Toll on Your Child?

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StutteringFor a child who stutters, having to speak publicly or hold a conversation can be terrifying. HEALTH finds out what parents can do to help this child.

The Beginning

In children, stuttering usually happens between the ages of two and six years and more often in boys than in girls. Dr. Raymond Hamden, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist explains that while it may be a challenge at this age, it is important to deal with the stuttering before it can leave a lasting impact moving into adulthood. Psychologically, stutterers often end up hiding their true selves and instead of communicating all these things, they turn inward.


Pseudo-Stuttering

Many toddlers and preschool age children stutter as they are learning to talk, says Dr. Hamden. While many parents worry about it, most of these children will outgrow the stuttering and will have normal speech as they get older. “Since most of these children don’t stutter as adults, this normal stage of speech development is usually referred to as pseudostuttering or as a normal dysfluency,” he explains. As children learn to talk, they may repeat certain sounds, stumble on or mispronounce words, hesitate between words, substitute sounds for each other, and may be unable to express some sounds. The stuttering usually comes, goes, and is most noticeable when a child is excited, stressed, or overly tired.

True Stuttering

True stuttering is much less common than pseudostuttering. Unlike children with pseudo-stuttering, Dr. Hamden points out that children with true stuttering are more likely to have long repetitions of some sounds, syllables, or short words. While it may also come and go, true stuttering occurs more often than pseudo-stuttering and occurs more consistently.

Treatment

While there is no absolute cure for stuttering, there is treatment. Early intervention can make all the difference in the world and in the life of the child who stutters. “Parents are advised to contact a speech pathologist who can monitor the child and determine if treatment is needed and what is the most appropriate type of treatment,” says Dr. Hamden. As no single method works for everyone, seek information about all the treatment options in order to make an informed decision and provide treatment as appropriate.

Tips To Help a Child Who is Stuttering

  • Not correcting or interrupting the child when he/she is talking. Not asking the child to repeat himself/herself or tell the child to slow down.
  • Do not make the child practice saying certain words or sounds.
  • Be sure to talk to your child slowly and clearly and give him/her the time needed to finish what he/ she is trying to say.
  • Talk to your child a lot by discussing his/her day, narrating aloud the things you are doing and reading books.
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