Stuttering

What every parent should know

Is it normal for young children to stutter?

As children develop speech and language and start to talk in sentences, they may repeat sounds at the beginning of words or repeat parts of words.  Professionals refer to this stage as normal dysfluency.  It may appear between 2 ½ and 4 years of age and could last up to 3 months.

This sometimes happens because the child’s ability to communicate is not balanced with the demands to communicate.

Children at these early stages of language development are trying to deal with the demands of telling people what they want, answering questions from adults, and just working at making the right sentence to express what they are thinking.   Sometimes, the repetitions include struggling to get a word out or frustration at having trouble talking.  If your child lets you know that their speech is upsetting them (e.g. “I can’t say it”.) or if you notice that they are experiencing a lot of trouble talking, it is important to call tykeTALK and arrange for an appointment to see a Speech-Language Pathologist.  Click here for our Online Referral Form, or call 519-663-0273.

What are the signs of normal dysfluency?

  • Your child might repeat a sound at the beginning of a word, up to five times in a row (e.g.”I,I,I,I”).
  • Your child might repeat a whole word, several times in a row (e.g. “I want, want, want, want”).
  • You child might occasionally get frustrated and not want to talk.

What can a parent do to help?

  • Try to reduce the demands to communicate.
  • Although it may seem logical to ask your child to speak more slowly and think about what they will say, this only adds to the demands on their speech. 
  • When you are talking with your child, pause frequently after a phrase of several words.  This will slow down your speech and let your child know that you are in no rush.
  • Be a good listener, pay attention, and look at your child, when your child is talking to you.  
  • Set aside a few minutes each day to talk with your child in a relaxed, unhurried way, so that you can focus just on them.
  • Try not to ask too many questions.  Questions put people on the spot.  If a child is having difficulty talking smoothly, they will feel more pressure if you ask them questions.  
  • Make comments about things you’d like to talk about.  This reduces pressure and encourages more conversation.
  • Share all of the above information with other family members, including aunts and uncles and grandparents.
  • Let your child know that you understand and will be patient, when they are having trouble talking. 

Does normal dysfluency ever become real stuttering?

  • In most cases, normal dysfluency disappears within 3-6 months.  Sometimes, it may last only a few days or few weeks.
  • If your child’s speech becomes more difficult for them or if they start to struggle to get words out, they should be seen by a Speech-Language Pathologist.  
  • Early help for children who are having greater trouble with dysfluency can often prevent it from becoming a permanent stuttering problem.  Call tykeTALK at 519-663-0273 or complete our Online Referral Form.

If my child has been stuttering for more than 6 months and seems to be getting worse, can speech therapy help?

  • Speech-Language Pathologists work with both children and families to help the child to reduce the stuttering behaviour.
  • The earlier you refer your child, the better the chances for successful treatment.
  • If you would like to refer your child for an assessment, call tykeTALK at 519-663-0273 or complete our Online Referral Form.