Supporting children and young people with dysfluent talking
A stammer (or stutter) is a speech disorder characterised by disruptions which interrupt the smooth flow of speech. The dysfluencies may take the form of repetitions of sounds, syllables or words – like saying ‘da-da-daddy’.
Stammering is not uncommon in pre-schoolers as they learn to talk, and it can affect up to 8% of children (about 1 in 12). Much of this stammering is short lived (between the ages of 2 and 5) and does not always persist but it is not easy to tell if it will continue. Therefore it is always helpful to seek advice from a Speech and Language Therapist if you are worried about the fluency of your child’s speech.
Research suggests that stammering is a neurological condition related to the part of the brain responsible for speech development. Stammering can run in families with around 60% of people who stammer also having a family member who stammers (or a history of stammering). Parents do not cause stammering.
How to help:
When a child begins to stammer it can be a worrying time for parents but there are a number of things that can help. It is important to reduce any pressure a child might experience when talking to them. It is helpful to maintain natural eye contact and concentrate on what your child is saying, not how they say it. It can also be useful to do the following:
Use short sentences when talking to your child
Slow down your own rate of speech
Pause before answering their questions
Give praise for things your child does well
Avoid finishing the word or sentence your child is trying to say as this can cause frustration. Don’t ask too many questions and allow plenty time for the child to respond.