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Childhood Stammering

Childhood Stammering

Everything you need to know
about Childhood Stammering

A child between the ages of 2 and 5 is likely to have a phase of transient childhood stammering. This is a critical period in the development of speech and language. It’s possible that the stutter will last a few weeks or months. While the majority of stuttering is outgrown, a stammer can sometimes last until adulthood. Regardless of whether your child’s stutter is temporary or permanent, you should learn everything you can so you can help your stuttering child.

What’s Childhood Stammering?

Stammering occurs when the following occurs:

  • Saying “mu-mu-mu-mummy” is an example of repeating sounds or words.
  • You make lengthier noises, such as “mmmmmmummy.”
  • Occasionally, a word becomes stuck or does not come out at all.

The severity of stammering varies from person to person and scenario to situation. Periods of stammering may be interspersed with periods of more fluent speech.

Learn more about the effects of stammering.

The two most common types of stammering are:

  • Early childhood stammering is the most prevalent type of stammering that occurs when speech and language abilities are still developing.
  • Stuttering that develops later in life as a result of a brain injury, stroke, or a degenerative neurological disorder is known as acquired or late-onset stammering. Certain treatments, medicines, and psychological or emotional trauma can also cause it.

The information presented here is geared toward developmental stammering.

What causes stammering?

It’s impossible to determine why a youngster begins to stammer, but it’s not due to anything the parents have done.

Small changes in how efficiently the speech parts of the brain work, as well as developmental and genetic characteristics, may all have a role.

Speech development

Speech development is a complicated process that entails communication between different parts of the brain as well as between the brain and the muscles that control breathing and speaking.

When every component of this system is functioning properly, the correct words are pronounced in the correct order, with the appropriate rhythm, pauses, and emphasis.

A youngster learning to make simple phrases needs practise in order to establish the various speech centres in the brain and the “wiring” (neural connections) required for the various pieces to operate together effectively.

If some components of this evolving system are not coordinated, issues can arise. This can lead to repetitions and pauses, especially if the youngster has a lot to say, is excited, or is under stress.

Some of these issues fix or the brain may compensate as the brain develops, which is why many youngsters “grow out” of stammering.

Sex differences and genes

Boys are more likely than girls to stammer. It’s unclear why this is the case.

Genes are thought to play a role as well. Around two-thirds of persons who stammer have a family history of stammering, implying that a child’s genes may make them more prone to acquire a stammer.

Long-Term Effects of Stammering

Problems commonly appear between the ages of 2 and 5, when your child is still learning to talk.

As a youngster grows older and becomes more conscious of their stammering, they may alter their behaviour in order to conceal their speech problems.

Stammering can develop over time, but it usually begins suddenly in a youngster who has previously been able to communicate effectively.

Typical features

  • When speaking, repeating particular sounds, syllables, or words, such as “a-a-a-a-apple” instead of “apple”
  • Unable to move on to the next sound – for example, saying “mmmmmmmilk”
  • Long gaps between particular sounds and syllables make it appear as if a youngster is straining to utter the correct word, phrase, or sentence.
  • Using a lot of “filler” words like “uh” and “ah” during speech.
  • While straining with sounds or words, avoiding eye contact with others.

When a young child has a lot to say, is eager, is speaking something important to them, or wants to pose a question, he or she is more likely to stammer.

Stammering can be exacerbated when a child is self-conscious about their speech and is attempting to avoid stammering.

These scenarios could include:

  • Conversing with a person in a position of authority, such as a teacher
  • Making a public statement in front of the class
  • Reading aloud
  • Conversing on the phone
  • Stating their name at school registration

Behaviours associated with stammering

Involuntary motions such as eye blinking, quivering lips, grimacing, tapping fingers, and stamping feet might emerge in a youngster who stammers.

They could also:

  • They should avoid pronouncing particular sounds or words that cause them to stammer.
  • When they have problems getting words out smoothly, they use techniques to mask their stammering, such as claiming to have forgotten what they were trying to say.
  • Because of a fear of stammering, people avoid social situations such as asking for things in stores or attending birthday parties.
  • To avoid stammering, alter your speaking style – for example, speak slowly and quietly, or with an accent.
  • Because of their stammering, they may experience fear, frustration, shame, or embarrassment.

When to get help

If you have any worries regarding your child’s speech or language development, you should seek professional help.

Treatment for stammering in pre-school age children is generally beneficial, so it’s critical to get them sent to a specialist as soon as feasible.

Discuss your concerns with a doctor or a health visitor. They may recommend your child to a speech and language therapist (SLT) for evaluation if necessary.

You can call children’s speech and language services directly in many regions and refer your child yourself.

Stamma (The British Stammering Association) has more resources and help for those who stammer as well as parents of children who stammer. From Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., you can phone the hotline at 0808 802 0002 to learn about the services available in your area.

If you’re an adult who stammers and it’s affecting your social and professional life, you should ask your doctor to refer you to an SLT.

Treatments for stammering

People who stammer can benefit from a variety of speech and language treatment approaches that can help them speak more fluently.

You’ll work with a therapist to develop a strategy that’s right for your child or you.

This could entail:

  • Foster an atmosphere in which your child feels more at ease and confident in speaking.
  • Increase your fluency and improve your communication abilities with these tactics.
  • Focusing on sensations like dread and worry that come with stammering

Electronic gadgets to help with stammering are also available and can benefit certain older children and adults, but they are rarely offered on the NHS.

Learn more about stammering treatment.

Indirect therapy

Instead of focusing directly on their child’s speech, parents use indirect therapy to modify the way they communicate and the home environment.

If your child is under the age of 5, your therapist will most likely recommend that you attempt this method initially.

If a young child has been stammering for several months and it appears to be growing worse, direct therapy should be started right soon.

Indirect techniques are frequently founded on the idea that youngsters stammer because they are unable to meet the expectations placed on their language skills.

Other people’s “demands” or a child’s own eagerness and resolve to communicate may be the source of these “demands.”

The goal of indirect therapy is to provide a setting in which a youngster feels less pressure when speaking.

This could entail:

  • To your child, speak softly and quietly.
  • Encouraging family members to take turns and listen
  • Conversing about what you and your child are doing together, such as playing, cooking, walking to pre-school, or looking at favourite books — doing more of what appears to boost your child’s fluency
  • Not interfering with your child’s activities or criticising them
  • Creating a comfortable and peaceful environment for the family

Indirect therapy

Instead of focusing directly on their child’s speech, parents use indirect therapy to modify the way they communicate and the home environment.

If your child is under the age of 5, your therapist will most likely recommend that you attempt this method initially.

If a young child has been stammering for several months and it appears to be growing worse, direct therapy should be started right soon.

Indirect techniques are frequently founded on the idea that youngsters stammer because they are unable to meet the expectations placed on their language skills.

Other people’s “demands” or a child’s own eagerness and resolve to communicate may be the source of these “demands.”

The goal of indirect therapy is to provide a setting in which a youngster feels less pressure when speaking.

This could entail:

  • To your child, speak softly and quietly.
  • Encouraging family members to take turns and listen
  • Conversing about what you and your child are doing together, such as playing, cooking, walking to pre-school, or looking at favourite books — doing more of what appears to boost your child’s fluency
  • Not interfering with your child’s activities or criticising them
  • Creating a comfortable and peaceful environment for the family

Direct therapy

Younger children

For the treatment of stammering in young children, the Lidcombe Program is a commonly utilised direct behavioural therapy.

It’s intended to be completed by the child’s parents with the help of a speech and language therapist (SLT).

The Lidcombe Program is built on the premise of offering constant, non-judgmental, and supportive feedback to your kid about their speech.

More information about the Lidcombe Program can be found on the Speech Disorder website.

Older children

Stammering that lasts until a youngster is old enough to attend school is much more difficult to treat.

The repercussions of stammering become an additional aspect of the problem as time goes on. Anxiety over speaking, dread of stammering, and emotions of shame are among them.

Stuttering therapy for older children and adults often considers both speaking behaviours as well as the social, emotional, and psychological elements of stammering.

Direct treatment is frequently used with school-aged children to:

  • Aid in the development of fluency
  • Assist the youngster in gaining a better understanding of stammering
  • Share your stammering experiences with others
  • Work on feelings like dread and worry that come with stammering
  • Boost your communication abilities
  • Develop self-assurance and a positive outlook

Other treatment options

Other options for persons who stutter, notably older children and adults with persistent stammering and those who develop stammering later in life, exist in addition to direct and indirect therapy (acquired or late-onset stammering).

Psychological therapies

Solution-focused brief treatment (SFBT), personal construct therapy (PCT), neurolinguistic programming (NLP), and cognitive behavioural therapy are some of them (CBT).

These therapies don’t directly address stammering, but they can assist if you’re having negative feelings as a result of it.

Feedback devices

Solution-focused brief treatment (SFBT), personal construct therapy (PCT), neurolinguistic programming (NLP), and cognitive behavioural therapy are some of them (CBT).

These therapies don’t directly address stammering, but they can assist if you’re having negative feelings as a result of it.

The way you hear your own voice changes when you use feedback devices. They are as follows:

delayed auditory feedback (DAF) — this technology replays your voice a fraction of a second after you speak.

shifting auditory feedback (FSAF) – these devices play your voice back to you at a lower or higher frequency. combined DAF/FSAF devices – these devices combine both of the previous approaches.
These devices, which are comparable to hearing aids and are worn within or around the ear, can assist enhance the fluency of some people’s speech. Apps for cellphones and PCs that work in a similar way are also available.

These approaches aren’t for everyone, and they can be difficult to apply in some speaking contexts. On the NHS, gadgets are not widely available.

Stamma has further information on electrical devices and apps.