What to do if your little one starts stuttering

Last week in our blog, we talked about some of the symptoms of stuttering (also known as stammering or dysfluency). This week we will talk about what to do if your little one starts showing signs of a stutter.

As we mentioned in the previous blog, everybody makes mistakes while speaking, corrects themselves and occasionally stumbles over their words. This is not usually noticeable or problematic. However, if this is happening on a regular basis or is starting to affect your child’s ability to express themselves, then it may have moved into being a stutter.

Some stutters will resolve on their own without intervention. So if your child is young, or has only started stuttering recently, your speech pathologist may recommend waiting for a few months to see how it progresses. This is perfectly fine. Try to take some notes about their stuttering over time to help you when you return to the speech pathologist. It can be hard to notice small changes over long periods!

If you are waiting for therapy or haven’t had a chance to speak to a Speech Pathologist yet, the best thing you can do for your child is to try to ignore the stutter. Asking them to hurry up, or stop saying that word is very tempting, but ultimately unhelpful. If they are VERY stuck and cannot move on in the sentence, it can be helpful to move them on to another topic.

It is worth keeping an eye on your child’s anxiety and stress related to their speech. Younger children often don’t know they are stuttering and the therapy for preschoolers (usually a program called Lidcombe) is designed not to raise their awareness of their stuttering too much. However, for older children, particularly those at school, stuttering can be very embarrassing and children can become quite anxious about having to speak to people they don’t know well. In addition to talking to a Speech Pathologist, it can be helpful to consult a Child Psychologist.

If you are concerned that your child may be stuttering, it is worth getting a Speech Pathologist’s opinion. They will help you figure out the best options for your little one. Sometimes that will involve waiting, sometimes it will mean jumping straight into therapy. Newcastle Speech Pathology can help your little one if they are stuttering. Give our office a call on 02 4948 9800 to book an appointment.