Stuttering in Children

Stuttering in children is not uncommon. In fact, it is one of the more common conditions that parents consult with their children’s pediatricians. But do you know what stuttering really is and whether it should be a cause of concern?

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What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by the repetition of words. It also involves prolonging words, sounds and syllables resulting to communication flow disturbances. Stuttering in children is very common which often starts during the 18th or 24th month of the child’s life. It is normal for kids at this age to stutter as they try to combine words to formulate sentences and most of them outgrow this phenomenon.

Why does a Child Stutter?

Stuttering in children can be caused by their desire to talk fast. Because their language and speech skills are developing, their vocabulary is challenged and fails to sustain the verbal demands resulting to stuttering. Stuttering can also be caused by signaling problems between the nerves and brain. This may be a result of stroke, head trauma or brain injury. Stuttering also occurs when the child is under pressure and the condition gets worse with stress and anxiety. Lastly, stuttering can be inherited. In fact, studies showed that about 60% of children with stuttering problems have a family member or relative who also has the same disorder.

When to see a doctor

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Stuttering in children normally stops at 5 years of age. But if your child still stutters at this stage, you may bring him or her to the doctor. You may also consider bringing him or her if the repetitions become consistent and excessive with increased prolonging of words and strained speech, tightness in speech muscles and facial tension, vocal tension due to rising pitch, stuttering with body or facial movements, or if the child completely stops talking.

How is Stuttering in Children Treated?

There is no known cure for stuttering. However, there are treatment methods that help stop stuttering such as speech and electronic therapies.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy should start in 6 months to 1 year after learning that your child has stuttering problems. The duration of this treatment vary from child to child. Under speech therapy, your child learns to talk calmly with the aid of a speech pathologist. Speech therapy helps reduce stuttering in children.

Electronic Therapy

As the name suggests, this stuttering treatment is done with the aid of electronic devices. One stuttering electronic device looks like a hearing aid. It plays back his or her altered voice to the child as if speaking to someone else. Electronic therapy encourages fluent speaking among stuttering children.

How can Parents help their Stuttering Child?

Create a calm and relaxing atmosphere at home and use family mealtimes to talk to your child. Speak calmly and pause frequently when talking with your child. Let your child finish his or her thoughts before you start to talk. Avoid showing signs of being upset or criticizing him or her. Instead, look your child in his or her eyes when he or she speaks. Also, don’t require him or her to speak correctly all the time.

Stuttering in children normally occurs during the early stages of their lives. With parental love and assistance, you can provide the finest treatment for this type of speech disorder.

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