It is common for a child aged 2-6 to experience a period of disfluency. Some patterns of disfluency need only to be monitored by the parents. "More typical" disfluencies are those present in the speech of all speakers, and may resolve without intervention. These should be loose and effortless. (Of course, early intervention strategies for parents can increase the odds of the child "outgrowing" the period of disfluency.) "Less typical," or at-risk patterns, are indicative of disfluencies involved with stuttering.
- Interjections ("uh," "um")
- Unfinished Words
- Phrase Repetitions
- Loose Word Repetitions
- Sound Repetitions (p-p-pizza)
- Syllable Repetitions (pi-pi-pizza)
- Prolongations of Sounds/Words
- Speech Blocks (voicing stops)
- Tense Word Repetitions
Stuttering and Your Child: Help for Parents
Answer These Questions:
- Has your child been exhibiting "less typical" disfluencies for 2 or more months?
If so, a chronic pattern may be developing. An assessment can help with diagnosis and early intervention strategies. Therapy may or may not be indicated.
- Is your child aware of his disfluencies? This can be because a listener, including yourself, has offered advice or commented on it. Or, is he exhibiting physical signs of struggle (i.e., eye blinks, facial grimaces, movement of extremities, etc.)
Awareness is a watershed area dividing low-risk and high risk. This is because many children begin trying to prevent stuttering, either from frustration related to the physical struggle to talk, or because listeners are correcting them when they do stutter.
- Has your child expressed concern to you? Have his siblings, relatives, teacher/day care, or friends inquired?
If the child himself is expressing concern, he needs help from a stuttering specialist.If others are making inquiries, the behavior is noticeable enough that he is at risk for teasing and developing an identity of a stutterer.
- Are you as a parent concerned and don’t want to take chances? Would you be more comfortable with an expert opinion and early intervention strategies?
An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure. Age 3-6 offers a critical time window to resolve stuttering.
- Have you witnessed any signs of avoiding speaking? This could be overt, such as the child who aborts an attempt at speaking due to frustration. Or covert, such as changing words when they fear stuttering.
Avoidance is advanced awareness and requires immediate intervention. When you think about it, a child who is avoiding is trying to prevent stuttering.Interjections such as "uh uh," "but," or "and," that immediately precede stutters can also be an avoidance habit. These indicate the child is aware of a stutter and using a "filler" or "starter" strategy.
A "yes" answer on any of these five questions suggests that an assessment by a stuttering specialist is indicated. Family-centered early intervention can be very effective in helping you and your child. In early intervention, we desire to resolve the stuttering before it progresses into a life-long speech impediment. Let us help you solve this problem.