As your child begins to use more complex language, you may notice an increase in stuttering.
Preschool-aged children will go through periods of time of “normal stuttering.” Types of stuttering that are common for this age include revisions (children revise what they have just said), interjections (um, uh, like), word repetitions (the-the) and phrase repetitions (the dog-the dog).
As your child nears school age, the amount of stuttering should be less frequent.
Warning signs which may signify a true stuttering disorder include:
1) frequent sound repetition: d-d-dog;
2) frequent syllable repetition: do-do-dog;
3) syllable repetition in which the vowel “uh” replaces the correct vowel in the word (i.e. “cuh-cuh-cat” rather than “ca-ca-cat”);
4) frequent prolongation that becomes longer in duration (i.e. “mmmmmmy” rather than “my”);
5) secondary characteristics, such as distracting sounds, facial grimaces, head movements, movements of the arms/legs;
6) tension and struggled behavior while attempting to get out words;
7) avoidance in saying certain words;
8) a look of fear when trying to say the word;
9) stutters for 6 months or longer;
10) stutters for more than 10 percent of speech.
If you notice any of the above behaviors, here are some general rules to follow:
Do not rush the child when they are speaking
Do not interrupt the child
Do not talk about the child’s stuttering in front of them
Do not ask questions and pressure the child to speak
Do speak in a slower, more relaxed voice around your child
Avoid telling your child to slow down, take it easy or repeat without stuttering
Relieve tensions in the home; reassure your child with comments, such as “It’s OK. Many people get stuck.”
Avoid finishing your child’s words or sentences
Ensure that your child is getting proper rest and diet.
If you think your child may have a stuttering disorder, please contact your local speech-language pathologist.
Local Services are available through CMC-Lincoln Rehabilitation with an order from your physician. Please call 980-212-7040 for more information.
Information for this article was taken from pro-ed (If you think your child stutters) and Disfluent Speech Behavior in Children, by Daniel DeJoy, Ph.D.
Megan Fitzpatrick is a speech therapist with Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln.