How can I help my child manage her stutter?
It is important to remember that every child develops speech at different times. If your child is having speech problems, keep the child's physician involved in the evaluation of your child. The following are some suggestions to help with normal speech difficulties your child might have, and help to prevent your child from developing true stuttering difficulties:
Encourage your child to talk to you about fun and easy topics in a non-stressful place.
Try to make talking fun or make it a game.
Do not interrupt your child while he/she is speaking, even if your child is making mistakes or having trouble.
Do not ask your child to repeat something you do not understand. Attempt to guess what your child is saying and continue on with the conversation.
Do not have your child practice certain sounds or words. This will make your child uncomfortable about his/her speech.
Do not try to slow your child's speaking. Try to talk with your child in a calm, quiet place and be a model of speaking slowly. Asking your child to slow down will only frustrate your child.
Ask other adults not to correct your child's speech and do not talk about your child's speech problems in front of him/her.
Listen attentively to your child.
Wait for your child to say the words without saying them for him/her.
Talk openly about the stuttering if your child brings up the subject.
Avoid asking your child to speak for you
The goal of treatment is to focus on relearning how to speak, or to unlearn incorrect ways of speaking. Although there is no cure for stuttering, early intervention may keep stuttering from becoming a life-long problem. Speech and language evaluation is suggested for children who exhibit stuttering or struggle with speech for more than six months. Medications and electronic devices to treat stuttering are sometimes used.
When do speech difficulties become a concern?
Your child's physician will make this determination with you and your child. The following are some of the warning signs that child might have true stuttering or other speech problems and not just normal developmental difficulties:
- your child stutters after the age of 5
- your child is fearful of talking or does not talk
- there is a family history of stuttering
- your child is not saying words by 18 months
- other people cannot understand any words that your child is saying and your child is over 2 years old
- if your child is older than 3 years old and about half of what your child says is not understood by others
- repetition of words or phrases continues for more than six months and after trying the above recommendations