As early intervention therapists there are some questions we get from parents quite frequently. These common questions may be ones that you need answers to also. Today’s blog entry is the beginning of our FAQ series that we hope you will find helpful!
FAQ #1 – Is my toddler/preschooler developing a stuttering problem?
Answer: Probably not. It is very common for children between the ages of 2 1/2 to 5 years to stumble over their words (repeat the first word of a sentence, repeat the beginning syllable of a word). At this stage in their development, they are experiencing more complex thoughts and may have a little trouble formulating and speaking in sentences as quickly as their little brain is thinking! Most children outgrow these normal dysfluencies by the age of 5, however if your child is stuttering for more than six months or if you notice that the stuttering becomes more severe (prolonging the beginning sound of a word “ssssssssnake”, opening their mouth to say a work and getting “stuck”, tension in their face when trying to talk, blinking their eyes or stomping their feet in an effort to get the words out) you may want to consult a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation.
Here are some tips on how to react to your child when they are “stuttering”:
-Stay calm and be patient. Show your child that you are interested in what they have to say and will wait as long as they need to get their thoughts out. Do not finish their sentences for them, this may only frustrate them more and make them feel like you are talking for them.
-Model slow, easy speech (think Mr. Rogers). Hearing this style of talking may encourage your child to speak more slowly and reduce their dysfluent speech.
-Do not call attention to or point out to your child when they stutter. Increased awareness in your child will only increase their stuttering by making them feel poorly about their speech.
Some helpful websites for any other questions you may have:
When therapists talk to little ones about what stuttering is and how it is different from typical speech we often use the words “smooth” vs. “bumpy” speech. I love this visual from The Learning Curve to help little ones understand the difference.