From the May 2006 issue of Parents Magazine
1. Relax — most kids will stop stuttering by themselves.
Young children often stutter a little when they’re first learning to talk, but as many as 75 percent of them will stop on their own within the first year or so, according to J. Scott Yaruss, PhD, associate professor of communication science and disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. Some problematic speech patterns to look out for: repeating sounds or syllables (“t-t-toy”), prolongation (“mmmommy”), or breaks when no sound comes out (“p—uppy”).
2. If you’re worried, don’t wait it out.
Having an expert evaluation will put your mind at ease and help you make a more informed decision about what kind of help — if any — your child might need. If he’s been stuttering for more than three months, regardless of his age, ask your pediatrician or a speech teacher at his school to recommend a speech-language pathologist. “To overcome stuttering, earlier intervention is better,” says Elizabeth Walker, a school speech-language pathologist in Baldwin, New York. While there’s no known cause for stuttering, there are certain risk factors that can help a therapist predict whether or not your child will continue. These include: a family history of stuttering, starting to stutter after age 3 1/2, physical tension (clenched jaw, blinking) while trying to speak, other speech delays, awareness of one’s own stuttering, and a strong reaction from friends and family to the stuttering. Boys are also less likely to outgrow stuttering than girls
3. Not all speech-language pathologists are experts in treating stuttering.
Please note: this would be ME. When I have students on my case-load who stutter I freak out and have little idea of what to do or where to start.
Once you’ve decided on therapy, it’s best to look for a board-certified specialist in fluency disorders, or at least a speech-language pathologist who has a background in treating stuttering, recommends Walker. (Go to stutteringspecialists.org if you want help locating a specialist near you.) A good clinician will probably use a combination of different methods that suits your child’s specific needs. For example, she might train your child to speak more slowly (sometimes called “turtle speech”), and she might also ask you to slow down your own speech and praise your child when he speaks fluently. Also, try to be aware of how you react to your child’s talking. Lots of parents fill in words for their kids or put pressure on them to speak more quickly without even realizing it. Whether or not therapy is necessary, give your child plenty of time to finish his sentences on his own and try not to get frustrated when he has trouble speaking.4. You’re not alone.
There are plenty of resources available to help you learn more about stuttering and get in touch with other families of children who stutter. The National Stuttering Association, the Stuttering Foundation of America, and Friends Who Stutter are three helpful organizations.
On a personal note, The Flash had some of the WORST preschool stuttering I have heard. He could easily stutter on a sound for 20 seconds. They were always “easy, loose” stutters but this went on for about 2 years. He met all the signs of having a possible long term difficulty requiring help. It would go away for a month or two and then come back and last 9 months. It was so frustrating for me as the speech pathologist mommy to hear him. That said, he stopped stuttering right around his birthday, now it has been about 10 months and he is still doing great. Hopefully it will stay that way. I do not have any idea about his family history of speech issues so I know it could go either way. I even bought a video about treating preschool -aged children who stutter so that I would know some tips for working with The Flash, but it was so boring I never got through the whole thing! (oops!)