WHAT IS STUTTERING?
Stuttering, often referred to as Stammering, is a speech problem that makes it hard for children to speak smoothly. It occurs when the natural flow of speech is interrupted. When a child involuntarily prolongs sound, is not able to produce certain sounds, or repeats a sound, he is at risk for stuttering. It is not uncommon in the children between the ages of 2 to 5. For many children, it’s simply part of learning to use language and putting words together to form sentences. But they may simply be going through periods of normal disfluency that most children experience as they learn to speak. And for some, stuttering can become a life-long condition that causes problems in school and in functioning as an adult.
There are three types of stuttering:
- THE NORMALLY DISFLUENT CHILD – The normal disfluent child occasionally repeats sounds or syllables like “li- li- like.” This may also include hesitancies and and the use of fillers such as “uh”, “er”, “um”. These kind of disfluencies are signs that a child is learning to use language in new ways.
- THE MILD STUTTERER – A child with mild stuttering repeats words like li-li-like more than twice. Tension and struggle may be evident in the facial muscles, especially around the mouth. The pitch of their sound may rise with repetitions and they can experience a block in their sound.
- THE SEVERE STUTTERER – If a child stutters on more than 10% of his speech and stutters with considerable effort,is likely to have a life-long stuttering problem. The blocks are more frequent than repetition in syllables or sounds and prolongations.
WHAT CAUSES STUTTERING?
There is still a lot not known about the causes of stuttering. Experts point out to many factors that can cause stuttering that includes:
- GENETICS – 60% of stutterers have someone in family who also stutters or stuttered. Stuttering runs in families.
- CHILD DEVELOPMENT – Development factors are considered to be the contributing factor to stuttering in children. A child gathers all the skills from the preschool at a rapid rate, which can lead to stuttering in children who are predisposed to it. This is why stuttering often begins during the preschool years.
- DIFFERENCE IN BRAIN’S PROCESSING – In some children who stutters, language can be processed through the different parts of the brain. And there’s a problem with the way the brain’s messages interact with the muscles and body parts needed for speaking.
- FAMILY DYNAMICS – Usually, parents have a fast-paced lifestyle and they expect their to child to speak properly even when they are not capable of catching those words. This kind of parental attitude and high expectations can aggravate stuttering in a child.Finally, the child’s fear and anxiety of stuttering can cause it to continue and even worsen.
HOW CAN STUTTERING BE TREATED IN CHILDREN?
The treatment for stuttering depends upon the child’s particular circumstances. There is no “cure” for stuttering, and no drug has been approved to treat stuttering. For children who have a severe problem with stuttering, early evaluation and intervention is very helpful. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnosis of stuttering may also include:
- Detailed history of the development of the disorder
- Evaluation of speech and language abilities by a speech-language pathologist.
The goal of treatment is to focus on relearning how to speak, or to unlearn incorrect ways of speaking. Speech and language evaluation is suggested for children who exhibit stuttering or struggle with speech for more than six months.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP YOUR CHILD AT HOME?
There are a plethora of things you and your family members can do to help your child who stutters to get beyond his problems.
- Using a smooth and relaxed tone while talking to your child.
- Speak to your child in a shorter and simpler sentences, pausing slightly before responding.
- Don’t criticize your child’s way of speaking.
- Try to slow the pace of your household, minimizing the level of excitement.
- Don’t be afraid of talking to your child regarding stuttering.
- Use family meals as a conversation time. Avoid distractions such as radio or TV.
- Don’t interrupt your child or tell him or her to start over.
- Maintain natural eye contact with your child. Try not to look away or show signs of being upset.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF STUTTERING?
If your child stutters, he/she can feel frustrated and embarrassed about the way the other children reacts when he speaks. This can make your child avoiding any kind of communication with other people or change what he wants to say. This can create a very bad effect of stuttering in his way of speaking. Make sure that he doesn’t feel stressed about the way he speaks. Teach him that this kind of speaking is normal.
DO YOU KNOW THESE FACTS ABOUT STUTTERING?
- Stuttering is more common in boys than girls.
- More than 70 million people worldwide are stutterers — that’s one in every 100. In the US, more than 3 million people stutter.
- People Who Stutter (PWS) are normally fluent when speaking in unison, whispering or singing.
- No two individuals who stutter, stutter in the same way.
- In some cases, stuttering blocks the sound of person (silent blocking).
- Sometimes, a stutter can be the result of a head injury.
RELATED: Also know why adults stammer.