Many young children stutter for a while. Does your child make longer sounds than necessary, stick to certain sounds, or repeat words? Don’t worry, usually, this will happen on its own, but sometimes it is necessary to seek help. What exactly is stuttering? And when is it wise to take your little one to therapy?
How does a stuttering child get started, and what can you do?
As a mother, you can feel quite anxious when you hear your child hesitate. You may be wondering if this is part of normal development or if stuttering is actually present, and what you should do. It can be difficult to distinguish between disfluency which is a normal part of the development and early signs of stuttering.
Speech process in children
Speaking is a complex skill. Thoughts, ideas, or feelings must be transformed into language, into words and phrases. This language is transformed into speech movements. Next, all the muscles involved in speech are instructed (there are more than 100!). They have to make exactly the right move, with the exact speed and force, at the right time. This requires a high degree of coordination and synchronization.
So it’s no wonder this doesn’t always work well in young children. You’ll hear them repeat a sound or a part of a word, or hold a sound longer than necessary. This lack of fluency can be part of a child’s normal language development.
Between 50 and 80% of children who have difficulty speaking in childhood or preschool age, these difficulties disappear on their own as soon as they are able to better control their “speech apparatus”.
How do you realize your child stutters?
Stuttering usually begins between 2 and 5 years. There are a few features that can be an indicator that stuttering doesn’t go through on its own:
- Has difficulty starting a word, phrase, or sentence
- Prolongs a word or sound a lot within a word
- Repeat a sound, syllable, or word
- Maintains brief silences for certain syllables or words, or pauses within a word (word separation)
- Use additional words like “eh…” in case of difficulty to continue with the next word
- Excessive tension, stiffness, or movement of the face or upper body to pronounce a word
- Gets anxious to talk
- Their ability to communicate is limited.
Causes of stuttering in children
Researchers continue to study the underlying causes of developmental stuttering. In many cases, a combination of factors may be involved. Possible causes of stuttering can be:
Speech fluency can also be altered in the context of emotional dissension. People who don’t stutter may have fluidity problems when they are nervous or feel pressured. These situations can also cause them to stutter and lose fluidity.
For these reasons, in some children stuttering does not go away on its own. This is because they are born with a lower ability to synchronize and coordinate speech. It is often seen that stuttering already comes from family, but it is not always so.
If a child has a predisposition to stuttering, there are certain triggers that cause stuttering to arise or reinforce. The most important are tension and speed. Stress can arise when the balance between what a child can do and what is asked of them is broken, by the environment or by the child himself. Many changes in a short time can also influence the triggering of stuttering. In addition, anxiety and irritation of the environment regarding speech can make the child feel that he is doing something wrong. This can increase tension and therefore the risk of stuttering. With the speed factor, you can think of a high speech rate or a high age rate. If the speed is higher than what the child can bear, an imbalance between requirements and abilities occurs again.
Speech or stuttering therapy
If speech does not improve, while observing the above advice, it is wise to consult a speech therapist or speech therapist experienced in counseling young stuttering children and their parents. It will examine speech to identify all the factors involved. Afterward, he or she can give you tailored advice on how to best help your child.
What to do if your child stutters?
- Talk to your child at a leisurely pace and take regular breaks. Slowing down your own speech often works better than giving advice like, ‘Think first and then speak.’
- When you’re done with a sentence, wait a few seconds before saying anything.
- Ask as few questions as possible. Instead of just commenting on what your child tells you so they know they’ve heard it.
- Use your facial expression and body language to let him know that you’re listening to him and what he has to say and not the way he’s talking.
- Plan 15 minutes each day when you can give him full attention. This quality time gives your child confidence.
- Inform family members, such as siblings and people in the area of the above councils. All children, but especially children who stutter, speak more easily when they are not constantly interrupted.
- Finally and most importantly, let your child know that you love them and that you will always support them.
All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each child and each family is different and unique.
Carolina González Ramos
Do you have any questions or comments?
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