The first words come out of your child’s mouth and you’re thrilled to enter a new phase of communication. As they expand their vocabulary, however, you notice a problem with how the words are coming out. If the problem persists or grows worse, you may be dealing with a stutter, which is a common speech disorder that affects three million people in the United States.
The good news is that the team of pediatric speech pathologists here at Celebrations Speech Group specializes in stuttering. Through individualized therapies that target your child’s unique needs, we can lay the groundwork for better lifelong communication.
Whether you suspect your child has a stutter or you’ve already received the diagnosis, it’s worth quickly reviewing the speech disorder.
There are two types of stuttering — developmental and neurogenic (brain trauma) — but, for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus on developmental stuttering.
Stuttering typically develops in kids between the ages of 2 and 6 and it affects four times as many males as females.
The typical signs of stuttering include the following speech disfluencies:
- Repetition — repeating parts of words, like “sis-sis-sis-sister”
- Prolongation — drawing out a sound, like “phhhhhhhhhone”
- Blocks — pauses in speech
These symptoms typically develop as your child learns to speak, which can make diagnosing a stutter tricky because speech disfluencies are common (and normal) as children learn to communicate verbally. In fact, 5% of children may stutter for six months or more, but 75% of them outgrow the disorder by late childhood.
While the disfluencies we outline above are some of the more obvious signs of a stutter, you may also notice certain behaviors, such as excessive head nodding or eye blinking.
Treating a stutter
The first thing to understand about stuttering is that there is no “miracle cure,” but we have plenty of effective therapies that can help your child overcome their stutter. One of the keys to success is to address the problem during the earliest stages, so we urge you to come see us if your child:
- Has a stutter that lasts for more than six months
- Develops a stutter after the age of 3-½
- Has a stutter that grows progressively worse
- Has a close relative who stutters
- Avoids talking or tenses when they talk
When you and your child come in, we perform a complete evaluation of the problem and design an individualized speech therapy program, which may include:
- Fluency shaping exercises, such as singing, speaking aloud, speaking in unison
- Breathing exercises
- Learning to recognize when a disfluency is occurring and modifying speech
- Auditory feedback
We work one-on-one with your child, as well as within groups, which helps your child overcome any anxiety related to their speech.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can successfully treat your child’s stutter, please contact one of our two locations in Brentwood or Stockton, California, to set up a consultation.