Do you think your child might have a stuttering problem? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder where speech disruptions disrupt the flow of speech. These disruptions often take the form of repeating sounds, words, or syllables. The child may also exhibit behaviors like rapid eye blinking and lip tremors.
Stuttering can detriment your child’s quality of life. It can make communication very frustrating. Individuals that stutter often feel lonely or embarrassed.
Children typically outgrow stuttering. While 5% of children have a stuttering problem, less than 1% of adults do. But it’s best to get treatment early on, because the psychological impact can last for life.
Aren’t sure if your child has a stuttering problem? Look for the following symptoms:
- problems starting a word
- word repetition
- rapid blinking
- speech that comes out in bursts
- foot tapping
- hesitating before certain sounds
- lip trembling
- prolonged speech sounds
- anxiety about talking
- facial tics
- limited ability to communicate
- clenching fists
Stuttering Causes and Risk Factors
What causes stuttering? There are three primary types of stuttering, each of which has its own cause.
1. Neurogenic Stuttering
This type of stuttering occurs after brain injury, often from a stroke or head trauma. Here, the brain has trouble coordinating the components required for speech. This is usually due to signaling problems between the brain, nerves, and muscles.
2. Developmental Stuttering
This type of stuttering occurs when children are still learning language skills. Scientists believe it happens because the child’s language capabilities can’t meet verbal needs.
3. Psychogenic Stuttering
This type of stuttering attributes stuttering to psychological factors. But even if one doesn’t have a psychological cause, they can worsen symptoms of stuttering. For example, stuttering can get worse in cases of anxiety, stress, and nervousness.
Now that you know some of the core causes, it’s time to discuss risk factors. These may make your child particularly susceptible to developing a stuttering problem.
Risk Factors for a Stuttering Problem
Male children are much more likely to develop a stuttering problem. Their risks are anywhere from 3 to 6 times greater than that of females.
Additionally, there’s thought to be a genetic component to stuttering. If a close family member stutters, there’s a greater chance of a child developing one as well. Several genes associated with an increased risk of stuttering have already been identified.
The time point when stuttering begins can show the likelihood of continuing to stutter later in life. If a child begins stuttering earlier in life, it’s less likely to continue into adulthood. Additionally, most children will stop within 1-2 years. If it lasts longer than this time frame it’s more likely to continue through adulthood.
Most of the time, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) diagnoses stuttering problems. These health professionals test for a variety of speech disorders.
The SLP will analyze how likely the child is to continue stuttering later on in life. He or she will also keep an eye out for how often stuttering happens as well as how the child copes with it. Taken together with age and genetics, the SLP will be able to determine if there is a disorder and how much it will affect the child’s life.
Stuttering is a common part of learning to speak, though. So how do you know when to call an SLP about your child’s stuttering? Look out for the following:
- more than six months of stuttering
- it becomes more frequent with age
- it persists after the age of 5
- it’s causing anxiety and emotional problems
- it’s affecting the child’s schooling
If your child experiences one or more of these symptoms, consider getting them diagnosed immediately.
There are a number of different treatments for stuttering, depending on its cause and how severe it is.
Some individuals find great solace in electronic fluency devices. These use modified auditory feedback. Here, an earpiece echos the speaker so it feels like they’re talking with someone else. Another device option makes your voice sound distorted to you until you slow down speech.
There are a variety of therapy options for children that stutter. In fluency shaping therapy, they track speech rate and teach them to stretch out sounds. They also learn how to change their breathing during prolonged speech.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy. It teaches the child to identify situations where stuttering worsens and change ways of thinking about them. This works best for psychogenic stuttering problems.
Stuttering modification therapy modifies stuttering so that it’s easier to talk. This focuses on requiring less effort instead of eliminating the stutter altogether. Again, this is best for psychogenic stuttering because it aims to reduce anxiety associated with speaking.
This modern development uses telecommunications technology. It allows you to get professional services from the comfort of your own home. Most of these options are fluency shaping.
First, an SLP evaluates the child’s stuttering. Then, they’re taught skills to reduce stuttering. These often include monitoring speech rate or using breathing exercises. At Great Speech, we create tailored programs that can help reduce stuttering symptoms.
Does Your Child Have a Stuttering Problem?
Interested in using telepractice to improve your child’s stuttering? Great Speech Therapy can help! Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how our therapists can help your child live a stutter-free life.