Stuttering is a speech fluency disorder characterized by repetitions of sounds, syllables, or words along with pauses in speech called blocks. Stuttering is a normal part of speech development in children when their speech and language abilities have not yet developed to keep up with what they want to say. This typically occurs between ages 2-5 and improves on its own. Parents my notice that stuttering increases when the child is tired, stressed, hurried, pressured, or excited. The best way to help these children is by creating a relaxed home environment where the child is allowed to speak in an unhurried manner and that they know they are being listened to. Don’t attempt to correct or finish their sentences, and if the child asks about the stuttering speak openly and honestly about how it’s a normal part of learning to talk.
75% of children who experience stuttering will outgrow it, for the remaining 25% it can persist into adulthood and can cause significant difficulties in communication and impairments in quality of life. Children who are at increased risk of sustained stuttering include those who developed it after age 3.5, if there is a family history of stuttering, or if there are other problems with speech and language. Those that have severe stuttering, persistent stuttering after 6 months, or stuttering that is worsening with time should be referred to speech therapy. At home parents can model a slow unhurried manner of speaking and listen attentively while their child is speaking. For more information please check out https://stutteringhelp.org/
Alaina M. Brown, MD FAAP