What is stuttering? & how can I help my child?04 Jul 2020
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a fluency disorder and not an "illness". The latest definition considers the stuterring as "a temporary disruption between the intention and the motor system" (Alm;2015); in other words, the interrruption in the flow of speech.
What is the nature of stuttering?
The origins of stuttering arise from predispositions at the brain structure level that affect the production of speech in addition to sensitive, reactive temperament that is, in most cases, influenced by the environment. Stuttering can be mild, moderate or severe. The person may exhibit prolongations, repetitions and even emotional or physical tension (e.g tension in the neck or face). An avoidance of eye contact can also be noticed. Children may show low self-esteem especially after the age of 7 yrs old due to the negative experiences they might have been exposed to. This low self-esteem persists through adulthood.
When to seek help if my child stutters?
Seeking a professional advise is crucial whenever a child is above 5 yrs of age or at any age if the stuttering have been present for more than 6 months.
How can I help my child who stutters?
You can help your child who stutters by avoiding to:
- ask him to take a deep breath before speaking
- make him "think" of his words or "repeat" and "concentrate" on what he has just said
- ask him to talk slowly
- have busy schedules in the family; try to have a slow pace in your daily life. When the person who stutters feels the pressure of time, this may increase the likelihood of an increase in his stuttering
You can help your child who stutters by:
- paying attention to WHAT he is saying and not to HOW he is saying it
- talking openly about stuttering while keeping in mind that it is OK if he stutters...stuttering is not a taboo; do an online search about stuttering with your child and read about famous people who stutter or used to stutter and had successful lives like Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Rowan Atkinson and president Joe Biden.
- letting him express his feelings associated with stuttering
- being a role model in communication by talking calmly and taking turns in conversations
Finally, the most important thing you can do to help your child in his stuttering is to consult with a specialized speech and language therapist who will assess your child's fluency and give him and you the support you both need.