Early Intervention gives the best chance of recovery from stammering
Trust your own judgement when you are concerned about your child’s speech. Contact a speech and language therapist who ideally specialises in stammering. Most services accept referrals directly from parents. The BSA can supply the contact details of your local service.
Stammering does vary with the individual child, but some common features are:
- Repetition of whole words, e.g. 'when, when, when, are we playing?'
- Repetition of single sounds or parts of words, e.g. 'g-g-go away!' or 'mu-mu-mu-mummy
- Stretching sounds in a word, e.g. 'I like that s-s-story.'
- Blocking of sounds, when the child's mouth appears ready to speak but no sound emerges for several seconds, e.g.'----I got a book.'
- Stopping speaking half way through a sentence.
- Tension signs in the face, e.g. around the eyes, lips, neck or nose.
- An extra body movement as the child try to push out the word: e.g. stamping the feet, tapping with hands or changing position.
- Breathing might sound affected e.g. the child might hold his breath while speaking.
Stammering can come and go and this may be confusing for parents who are trying to notice their child's speaking. It can change even within the same conversation and can fluctuate from mild to severe depending on the situation. It may range from part and whole word repetitions a few times a day for one child, to blocking for 3-4 seconds, accompanied by gestures like foot stamping, with facial contortions on nearly every other word, for another.
When does it begin?
The commonest time is between two and five years when the child's language development is at its peak. It can emerge gradually, but it may also begin very suddenly.
Learning to talk is a complex process and at least one in twenty pre-school children (5%) will have some problems with their fluency at some time when their speech is developing. It has been suggested by one researcher that it can affect as many as one in 8 young children (12%) so it may be more common.
Recovery from stammering
Always contact a speech and language therapist when your young child stammers. Most services accept referrals directly from parents. The BSA can supply the contact details of your local service.
Some children will recover without help and many will recover with help. Girls and boys are equally affected, but girls are likely to start stammering a little earlier and are more likely to overcome the problem than boys. It is reassuring that the likelihood of recovery is not related to the severity of the stammering, as children who stammer severely can recover naturally within a few months. By the age of ten boys who stammer outnumber girls by four to one. One per cent of children will continue to stammer into adulthood.
There is a major difference between the beginning stammering found in a young child and the confirmed condition in older children and adults.
Stammering in young children is largely a temporary speech difficulty as it can be overcome with modern approaches to therapy. Therapists like to see children who stammer as young as possible, even if there is no need for immediate help and recovery occurs naturally.
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Text for this page: Is your young child stammering?
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