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Is Your Kid Stuttering?

Last week, I was deep in conversation with my 2-year-old niece, and every so often she would get seemingly stuck on a letter or sound, repeat it a couple of times, and then move on.  As we talked, she would say things like, “I w-w-w-want that juice” or “P-p-p-pick me up, please!”. The more we chatted, I realized my niece’s language sounded slightly “disfluent”, or as others say, “bumpy”.  I looked at my sister (my niece’s mom), slightly concerned at this new speech pattern but she assured me it was all developmentally appropriate (here are some fun speech tips).

This bumpy sounding language coming out of my niece is what most of us refer to as stuttering.   Some stuttering, as presented in my niece, is totally normal and almost to be expected as children are going through “language explosions”.  Typically, if your child stutters, it is considered developmentally appropriate if he or she:

  •         Occasionally repeats the first sounds or word in a phrase
  •         Is between the ages of 1 and 5 year old
  •         Doesn’t show much consistency in his/her disfluencies.  In other words – your child may sometimes stutter, and sometimes not.

When to Seek Help

Sometimes, though, stuttering can persist beyond what is considered “typical” and you may want to seek an evaluation by a pediatric speech-language pathologist for your child if one or more of the following red flags present:

  •         Your child has been stuttering for 6 months or longer
  •         Your child is 5 years of age or older
  •         There is a history of stuttering in your family
  •         Your child’s stuttering occurs more frequently and/or is increasing in severity.
  •         Your child can never seem to “get their words out”
  •         Your child is aware of his/her stuttering and becomes upset, embarrassed or frustrated.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent your child from developing a stutter, as it is a neurological communication disorder that can be “caused” by a combination of complex factors.  Additionally, there is no known cure for stuttering, but treatment by a pediatric speech-language pathologist can reduce or in some situations eliminate a child’s stuttering all together.

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