You often hear young children stumble over their words as they learn to speak. There are some tricky words out there! We all do it from time to time. But getting used to the countless words we use every day and developing a stutter are two different entities. Rather than a natural progression of acquiring language, a stutter is not a normal part of communication.
It is actually classified as a speech disorder in which repeated movement and fixed postures of the speech mechanisms interrupt fluency. This can be frustrating and embarrassing for a child and can set them back with their education and self-esteem. It can even progress into adulthood in some instances. It is upsetting to watch your child struggle in any way, and when they are having difficulty with one of the fundamental elements of everyday life – communication – you may feel completely unsure of what you can do.
At Chatterbox, we will support you and your child with stuttering treatment to help them find strategies to improve the flow of their speech so they can express themselves clearly and confidently.
What Is Stuttering?
A person who is stuttering knows what they want to say but they struggle to communicate it to the people around them. This disorder can involve prolonged sounds, the repetition of words, syllables or sounds, or interruptions in speech. Behaviours such as lip tremors or rapid eye blinking can also occur alongside the stuttering.
This speech disorder can affect people of all ages, though it is predominately seen in children between two and six years of age. Boy are generally more likely to develop a stutter than girls. The cause is not completely understood but is generally broken down into two types: neurogenic and developmental stuttering.
Sometimes the brain can have trouble coordinating the different regions involved in communication leading to disruption of speech patterns. This neurogenic issue can be a result of brain injuries, such as head trauma or strokes.
Stuttering commonly becomes apparent when a young child develops their language skills. This developmental type of stuttering generally involves the coming together of multiple factors. These can include genetics, with the disorder often running in families. It can also be influenced by altered neural processing, which is the activity in the brain. That said, this disorder does not indicate a low intelligence.
In the past, stuttering was attributed to psychogenic factors linked to emotional experiences and trauma, however it is now known that this is rarely the cause. It is also not a sign of poor parenting or education. Every person is different, and our speech therapists Sydney can assess your child and look at various features of their speech, background, and lifestyle to identify areas that can be addressed.
What Are Common Features Of Stuttering?
Stuttering differs – not only from person to person, but also within an individual. It can fluctuate and change depending on what someone is doing or feeling. For instance, speaking to a group may accentuate the disorder and it may reduce while reading. A stressful situation may increase a stutter, as can feeling anxious.
Some people’s stutter can involve repetition of whole phrases, such as ‘At school-at school-at school we played hopscotch.’ Sometimes words are repeated. For instance, a child may say, ‘My friend told-told-told-told me she likes ice cream.’ Syllables can also be repeated, such as ‘I went swi-swi-swi-swimming today.’ Sounds may also be repeated. For example, the ‘p’ sound in puppy: ‘I love taking my p-p-p-puppy for walks.’
Less commonly, prolongations, or extending sounds within a word can occur, such as ‘For dinner, I waaaaa-nt pasta.’ Blocks, or pauses, can also be part of stuttering, such as ‘Mum said we can watch Mary Poppins. (pause)…Do you want to?’
Will My Child Grow Out Of Their Stutter?
Stuttering can improve as a child develops, but it doesn’t always go away. Whether it will or not is not something that can be predicted, which is why early intervention with speech therapy is recommended. Our speech therapists Penrith look at how your child’s stutter presents itself, how long it has occurred, and their family history to identify what type of therapy is best for their situation.
How Can Therapy Help My Child?
Bringing your child to Chatterbox for assessment is a great step forward. We can assess them in our safe and caring environment and provide them personalised treatment suitable for their situation using evidence-based approaches that can have positive results. This involves various methods to minimise the stutter while progressing from single-syllable words to complex sentences.
We will also provide guidance and strategies to you and the people involved in your child’s life for ongoing and daily support. This can include methods such as setting specific time aside when you can listen attentively without interrupting or misunderstanding the content of what your child is trying to say.
Stuttering Is Not Normal But Therapy Can Help
A stutter can significantly impact a child’s day to day life in various ways, such as engaging in class, being bullied, and sharing their thoughts and feelings. This can extend beyond their educational and lifestyle needs and affect their job prospects and interpersonal relationships.
As someone involved closely in a child’s life and development, understanding how to support them is important, alongside stuttering therapy provided by qualified and experienced speech pathologist. At Chatterbox, our friendly and experienced team of speech therapists will work with you and your child in an environment of fun, learning, and support to help reduce their stutter. If you would like to talk to someone about speech therapy, we are happy to discuss how we can help.