October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day, and we wanted to share some important information to help spotlight this communication disorder.
As a bilingual speech-language pathologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, I help children overcome their challenges related to stuttering every day. This issue is more common than many parents realize, but several resources are available to help kids work through them.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), some stuttering early in childhood is normal. About 5 percent of kids go through a phase between the ages of 2 and 4 known as developmental stuttering. This occurs as children are learning much language and sorting through how to pronounce a variety of words. While about 75 percent of kids recover from developmental stuttering early on, some may need additional treatment as they age.
Types of Stuttering
In my practice, I notice some subtle variations in the types of stuttering that I see in my patients. They typically fall into the following categories:
- Sound repetitions (“I w-w-w-want my toy.”)
- Syllable repetitions (“I’m go-go-going to tell.”)
- Prolonged sounds (“Sssssssorry!”)
- Blocks or stops (“Can I [pause] go with you?)
Parents may also notice some other behaviors that occur before, during, or after the stuttering. These include body movements such as head nods or eye blinking, tensing of the body and muscles, changes in breathing patterns, or avoiding certain words or situations.
What to Look For
If you are concerned about your child’s speech patterns, it’s always worth a visit with the speech-language pathologist. As discussed earlier, stuttering between the ages of two and four is often quite normal, but even then, you can make an appointment to discuss your concerns and make sure your child’s speech progresses in a healthy manner.
There are a few other key areas that parents should be on the lookout for when it comes to stuttering. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms in your kids, I recommend scheduling a speech-language pathologist appointment:
- Your child has been stuttering for six months or more.
- Your child has been stuttering more frequently than they were previously.
- Your child is struggling to talk or beginning to avoid talking.
- Your child stutters, and you have a family history of stuttering.
How We Can Help
Once you schedule your visit with a speech-language pathologist, we can immediately begin to help your child in several ways. The first step is a thorough evaluation to help determine the right treatment path for your child. Often this will include speech therapy, which incorporates a few strategies to correct your child’s stuttering or other speech issues. This therapy may ultimately involve parents, other family members, and even teachers to help a child work through their speech issues. Resolving stuttering can take a village, but with hard work, it is quite often successful.
Working through stuttering issues with a child can be quite challenging. Often, parents need the support of others in their journey. Fortunately, a few valuable resources are available, including The Stuttering Foundation, the National Stuttering Association, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital provides speech and language pathology services to evaluate and treat fluency and stuttering disorders at all locations throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. To learn more, visit nicklauschildrens.org/Rehabilitation.