Sunday, April 15, 2012

A c c c common parenting q q q question on stuttering in a preschool child

Stuttering is a very common cause of excessive anxiety in parents, here is a typical case ...
Question: I have a two year old who has just started to stutter suddenly, will this go away?  Also he gets quite anxious and starts clenching when he tries to say certain words? Is this normal? Is there anything we can do at home that can help? 
Answer: I can understand your anxiety, so let me try to assist in the best possible way ....
While stuttering is quite common and approximately 1 in 20 children will stutter in their preschool years, there are marked individual differences. Stuttering may begin gradually or suddenly. Children may stutter mildly or severely and they may be upset by it or completely unconcerned. Stuttering usually fluctuates, sometimes disappearing for days and then reappearing. It often increases when the children are excited or tired. Although it is true that many children who stutter do grow out of it without treatment, it is not possible to predict with any accuracy which children will and how long it will take. We also still don't know what exactly causes stuttering but as a parent, you can be reassured that it is not caused by a traumatic event, nervousness, low intelligence, bad parenting, or imitation. The best course of action is to contact a Speech Language Therapist who specializes in the treatment of stuttering and make an appointment for an assessment.
Coming to your specific case,
Since there is some amount of anxiety - clenching associated with the stuttering, it is not just a normal dysfluency, and qualifies as a stutter. This, along with your concern, merits a visit to the speech therapist for evaluation and treatment.
Here are a few things that you can do at home,
Try to model slow and relaxed speech when talking with your child, and encourage other family members to do the same. Don't speak so slowly that it sounds abnormal, but keep it unhurried, with many pauses. Slow and relaxed speech can be the most effective when combined with some time each day for the child to have one parent's undivided attention. A few minutes can be set aside at a regular time when you are doing nothing else but listening to your child talk about whatever is on his mind. When your child talks to you or asks you a question, try to pause a second or so before you answer. This will help make talking to your child less hurried, more relaxed. ry not to be upset or annoyed when stuttering increases. Your child is doing his best as he copes with learning many new skills all at the same time. Your patient, accepting attitude will help him immensely. 
Do remember, Effortless repetitions or prolongations of sounds are the healthiest form of stuttering. Anything that helps your child stutter like this instead of stuttering tensely or avoiding words is helping. 
Finally, If your child is frustrated or upset at times when his stuttering is worse, reassure him. Some children respond well to hearing, "I know it's hard to talk at times...but lots of people get stuck on's okay." Other children are most reassured by a touch or a hug when they seem frustrated.
With these home tips, you are ready to ask your pediatrician for an appointment with a speech therapist for further evaluation and more tips to be able to deal with this :)
Don't worry, this too shall pass, and for most preschoolers, it goes of pretty soon, with or without any intervention,
is a great web resource to help you in your quest to understand more about this disease, use it !

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