Your child is beginning to use words, phrases, and even sentences, but you notice that they sometimes get hung up. Stuttering is not uncommon among children who first start to speak — between 5% and 10% of kids stutter at some point during speech development.
In most cases, the stutter is temporary. However, for one-quarter of kids who stutter, the issue can become a lifelong speech disorder.
To help you recognize whether your child’s stuttering is temporary or it’s setting up as an ongoing issue, the team at Celebrations Speech Group wants to focus on the subject here.
Stuttering is a speech disfluency in which your child can get caught on certain words — they may repeat the first sound or syllable and seem unable to move past it to get to the rest of the word or thought, such as “d-d-d-d-d-og.” Sometimes the stuttering presents as an elongated sound, such as “mmmmmmmmmmmmine.” Stuttering can also be a block before a sound comes out — you can see your child is trying to say something, but they’re unable to start.
Many confuse stuttering with repeating words or using fillers, such as “uh,” or “um.” These speech patterns don’t necessarily fall under stuttering and are somewhat normal as your child learns to speak and find words.
In 75% of kids who stutter when they’re first learning to speak, the speech disfluency goes away as the child develops. In these cases, the stuttering may last for a few weeks or a few months.
If your child stutters for more than 3-6 months, this may signal a longer-term issue, especially if the stuttering worsens. As well, if your child develops a stutter late — after the age of three or four — this could be problematic.
Another sign of a potentially persistent stutter is if your child develops any outward signs of struggling to speak, such as contorting their face.
Other behaviors may point toward a more permanent stuttering issue, such as repetitive behaviors like blinking or tapping their fingers when speaking. Or, they may become quieter as talking becomes a source of frustration.
While we don’t know the exact cause of stuttering, we do know that gender makes a difference. Boys are not only 2-3 times more likely than girls to stutter, and the number of boys who continue to stutter is 3-4 times that of girls.
Outside of gender, genetics may also play a role, so if someone in your child’s immediate family stutters, your child may be more at risk.
If you’re on the fence about whether to seek help for your child’s stutter, we feel it’s better to err on the side of caution and come see us for an evaluation. Early intervention with stuttering can make all the difference down the road. The sooner we can intervene with speech therapy, the better able we are to help your child communicate.
If you’d like to set up a stuttering evaluation for your child, please contact one of our offices near you — we have locations in Brentwood, Stockton, and Elk Grove, California.