Conditions + Treatments

Stuttering in Children

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Stuttering, sometimes referred to as stammering or diffluent speech, can be very humiliating for a child. This speech disorder is different than normal repetition of words, which children often do when learning how to talk. Normal developmental stuttering often begins between 18 months and 5 years old. Your child might begin to repeat words or phrases, have trouble pronunciation of words, leave out words or sounds, or speak some words that are hard to recognize.

Children with true stuttering have some normal developmental speech problems, but are then pressured to speak better. The child then becomes aware of his speech and struggles to speak better, which actually makes the speech worse.

  • Normal developmental stuttering and speech difficulties happen in about 90 percent of children.
  • Normal developmental speech problems usually improve over about two to three months.
  • Some mispronunciation of words may be present with a child for several years.
  • True stuttering happens in only about 1 percent of children. True stuttering occurs more often in boys than in girls.
  • True stuttering, if it is not properly treated, often worsens in adulthood.

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches stuttering

Children's has a devoted Speech-Language Pathology Program dedicated to examining speaking disorders, such as stuttering.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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