It’s an embarrassing problem for many children, causing many of them to shy away from social interactions. Whiles there is no cure for stuttering, there area therapies that can help.
Finding the right words is one thing, but for many children getting them out is a problem. One in four young children will have a pattern of stuttering as their speech develops.
“You don’t know which one is going to out grow it. So the theory used to be don’t treat it they’re going to outgrow it, but that’s not the theory anymore. I’ve worked with children as young as three,” says Mary Jo Haughey, a speech therapist with The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
A lot of research has gone into stuttering. Most involve altering patterns that contribute to the problem, especially in young children.
“With them it’s really modifying the environment, having the parents slow-down their speech pattern, not having a lot of competing noise like if you sit down at the dinner table turn the TV off. You don’t work directly on the stuttering itself at that age level,” says Haughey.
If the child is school aged, it’s best to talk the issue over with their teachers, because they benefit from education, too.
“If you ask them a question, let them raise their hand, don’t call on them immediately. Let them be the one to volunteer. If they’re extremely self-conscious about their speech and they have to do an oral report let them do it individually,” says Haughey.
Speech therapy may be used to help kids find their voice.
“Like lots of people when they sing, they won’t stutter because they’re changing the loudness of their voice. They’re changing the pattern. And that’s a lot of the things that you will work on in therapy,’ says Haughey.
The child might be encouraged. Look for and avoid trouble spots.
“If they wanted to say ‘by’ and they’ll get really stuck. It’s called an easy contact, try it with ‘byyy’ don’t press those lips hard together, make it a soft contact,” says Haughey.
Famous stutters include Winston Churchill, James Earl Jones, Nicole Kidman and Tiger Woods, proving a speech disorder doesn’t have to stop anyone from achieving their goals.