Stuttering doesn’t look the same from individual to individual. Some repeat sounds and syllables, others prolong sounds, and still others interject their own sentences with filler words and noises, such as ‘um’ or ‘like’. Just as there are different ways a stutter can sound, there are different categories for stutters to fall into. Developmental stuttering, the most commonly diagnosed, often happens to children between the ages of 2 and 5 when their words are lagging behind their thoughts.
Neurogenic stuttering is directly correlated to a brain injury that involves significant issues between the nerves and muscles of speech. Psychogenic stuttering is uncommon, but usually associated with an emotional trauma or an issue with thinking and reasoning. Each of these categories require their own line of diagnosis and specialized treatment plan to prevent the stuttering from occurring, but there is no cure for stuttering.
Thinking on developmental stuttering, a treatment plan will simply teach children different techniques, such as slowing their speech and breathing while they speak, to help them speak without a stutter. If these habits are taken to heart, they can prevent stuttering from continuing into adulthood, however, the disfunction within the brain will always remain.
Managing Stuttering in Preschoolers
To help your child manage stuttering, there are a variety of things you can try at home. First, you should create a relaxed, positive environment that your child can feel comfortable speaking in and set some time aside to just talk with them. It’s important not to overstress your child and make the experience fun! Don’t react negatively when they stutter, interrupt what they are trying to say, or say anything for them.
Let your child speak about what they wish and listen to what they have to say. You can start with easy and fun topics that they are interested in, but if they do start openly talking about the stutter, don’t avoid the conversation! It’s important for them to know their own family speech and language history and how your discussions with them can help them speak clearer. It may even be worth slowing down your own way of speaking to encourage your child to do the same.
At school, you’ll want to sit down with them and their teachers so that an equally safe, positive environment is created there as well! It might also be helpful for your child to participate in counseling or self-help groups with their peers.
Watch out for any signs of escalation as well. This includes problems in school, a fear of talking, refusing to talk, or stuttering for longer than 6 months. If any of these problems arise it’s time to contact your healthcare provider for a more in-depth solution. You can also contact us here at Speech & Occupational Therapy of North Texas. Overall, stay calm and positive. We’ll work together to create a better solution!