It can feel very worrying for Parents of a child who stammers. We know that lots of children go through a period of stammering in early childhood – about 5%. For 4 out of these 5 children early stammering goes away but it is difficult to predict with certainty which children stammering will go away for. Early advice and help increases the likelihood of a stammer going away.
What does stammering look like?
Young children who stammer can present in many different ways. For some children, parents see that their child’s talking becomes disfluent after they have developed previously fluent speech. This early type of disfluency can come and go . You may have noticed that your child started to stammer gradually that family noticed developing over time or it can appear all of a sudden and sometimes quite severely. Some children might have some awareness that their speech is disfluent but it is common for a child not to notice their speech disfluency. When your child begins to be disfluent it can be quite a difficult and upsetting time for parents. However, with the right early advice and support, early stammering behaviour often resolves.
You may see lots of little signs that your child is stammering, for example, your child may:
- Stop in the middle of telling you something
- Show signs of frustration or giving up
- repeat sounds or parts of words (e.g m-m-m-mummy or fri-fri-fri-day)
- Look like the word is stuck and nothing comes out
- Appear breathless or tense when talking
How we help?
- Try to listen to what your child is saying and not how they say it, it’s reassuring for them to know that you can understand what they are saying.
- Try to reduce the pressure on their talking by talking to them without asking them to answer as many questions. You can change some of your questions into comments really easily e.g ‘what did you do in school?’ to ‘I bet today in school you did your maths..’.
- Not asking your child to tell people things, e.g. ‘tell your Mum what you had for lunch’. This type of request puts immediate pressure on them to speak.
- Keep on teaching turn taking and waiting skills, often children under 5 are still learning to wait in conversation and it’s helpful for them to learn when it is their turn to talk or wait in a conversation for their words to come out easier. Try playing simple turn taking board games and being clear when they need to wait.
- When speaking to your child try to keep your talking slow and smooth as a good model. If grown-ups speak quickly and rush then children will often copy this.
- Not asking your child to ‘slow down’ or ‘take a deep breath’ when his/her talking becomes bumpy, instead give your child plenty of time to finish what he is saying and let him/her know that you are still listening by looking at them or nodding.
- try to avoid finishing his sentences for them, it’s really important that they know you will wait and that their talking is clear enough for you to hear them.
Speech therapy support begins with a thorough case history and assessment of your child’s language skills. During this process your speech and language therapist will be able to look at risk factors and begin to discuss treatment options with you based on your child’s individual needs. The research evidence tells us that there are a number of factors associated with the onset of early childhood stammering rather than there being a ‘cause’. We do know for certainty that parents do not cause their child to stammer. Research evidence also tells us, however, that parents play a crucial role in supporting their child to regain fluency.W
Please contact us on 03300882298 to speak to a friendly member of our team about how we can support you and your child.