What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a disorder in which speech is interrupted by repeated movements and or fixed postures of the speech mechanism. These interruptions may range from mild to severe and may be quite variable in individuals. For example in pre-school age children stuttering may come and go over days or months.
Stuttering typically begins when a child begins to put words together into short sentences. The onset of stuttering can be gradual or sudden. Often, the first sign of stuttering is the child repeating syllables such as “I…I…I…wanna…” or “Where…where…where is ….?” As well as, or instead of repeating syllables, your child may appear to be ‘getting stuck’ on certain sounds. For example they may hold the lips and tongue in one position for brief periods. This can seem to be a complete stoppage of speech as the child attempts to start a word, such as in “…………………can I have a drink.” Soon after onset sounds may be prolonged during moments of stuttering, such as in “wwwwwwwwhere is my drink?” Often, as stuttering develops, children show signs of effort and struggle while speaking.
Treatment for stuttering
It is important to begin treatment of stuttering some time within 12 months of onset, and it is known that few children will have recovered without treatment by then. At present it is not possible to say whether an individual child will recover naturally or will require treatment to begin.
For treating pre-school children who stutter, the only treatment with independently replicated, randomised clinical trials evidence is the Lidcombe Program. This is a simple behavioural treatment that centers around the parent providing feedback to their child to encourage stutter free speech.
If you are concerned that your child may be stuttering seek help from a Lidcombe trained Speech Pathologist.
Jayne Dixon and Becci Torode, Speech Pathologists