What You Should Know About Stuttering: Answers to 3 Key Questions

Speech therapist working with little boyMost of us don’t speak perfectly all of the time. Pauses, filler words like “uh” and “like,” and other bumps in speech aren’t uncommon. However, some children struggle more than others and display less typical disfluencies when they talk (with fluency referring to the continuity and smoothness of speech). The most common fluency disorder is stuttering, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

More than 70 million people worldwide (or approximately 1 percent of the population) stutter, so kids who have this communication disorder are far from alone, according to the Stuttering Foundation. If you’re concerned that your child might have this issue, here are the answers to some of the questions you might have.

1. What is stuttering? Stuttering typically involves specific speech disfluencies, including blocks (abnormal moments of silence), part-word or sound repetitions (e.g., “t-t-train”), and prolongations (e.g., “ssssstop that”), the ASHA explains.

Children who stutter usually begin doing so before the age of 5, with most displaying symptoms when they’re around 2 and a half. Stuttering can occur at the same time as other speech and/or language disorders. About 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts for at least 6 months, but three-quarters of them will stop stuttering by late childhood, the Stuttering Foundation states.

2. What causes stuttering?
The following four elements can contribute to the disorder, according to the Stuttering Foundation. It’s important to remember that a number of different factors combined can lead to stuttering, and the causes can vary from person to person.

  • Genetic history of stuttering in the family
  • Neurophysiology (i.e., speech and language processing issues)
  • Developmental delays, particularly in the areas of speech and language
  • Family dynamics (e.g., a fast-paced lifestyle)

Kids and adults who stutter aren’t more likely to have emotional or psychology issues than those who don’t stutter, and there’s currently no reason to think the disorder stems from emotional trauma.

3. What should I do if my child stutters?
If your child starts to show signs of stuttering, early intervention is crucial. Pediatric speech therapy can help your child overcome communication issues that could affect them socially and academically as they get older.

Our pediatric speech therapists care for children from birth to adolescence and offer the highest level of individualized treatment. To learn more about our services, please call 847-707-6744 or email info@littlestepspt.com.           

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