Does Your Child Appear to Have a Stutter?

Stuttering is the general term used when a child’s speech flow (fluency) or rhythm is interrupted in some way. Many children will experience disruptions to the flow of speech or sound ‘dysfluent’ when speaking as they grow and develop their language skills. This is considered normal, but if your child continues to experience interruptions to the flow or rhythm of their speech, and find communicating difficult, speech therapy is recommended.

A Growing Understanding works with children who stutter and their families to help them find their voice and produce words and sentences at their own pace.

Our individualised therapy programs include ongoing parent support and education, and are specifically designed to:

  • Tap into your child’s interests, skills, and challenges to develop appropriate goals and help them grow their confidence.
  • Help children slow down their speech, concentrate on breathing, and produce sounds slower and with less anxiety.
  • Utilise games and play to help your child and family understand what is occurring and why, as well as exploring how stuttering affects your child emotionally.
  • Implement specific strategies and provide parent support via the Lidcombe Program. This is a parent-based program which focuses on reinforcement and rewards and encourages you to spend time talking with your child every day.
  • Celebrate your child’s success and encourage ongoing practice.

Stuttering is a speech disorder characterised by interruption to the rhythm and flow of the production of speech sounds.

Stuttering can present in different ways, including repetition of sounds, parts of words or whole words (e.g. “wha-wha-….what are you doing”); prolongations or ‘stretching’ of speech sounds (“whaaaaat are you doing”); ‘blocking’ or struggling to produce sounds and words; and using interjections or ‘fillers’, such as “um” or “like” when speaking.

In more severe cases, a child can produce secondary, non-speech signs, such as eye blinking, facial grimacing or leg tapping when trying to speak. They may also display negative feelings towards their speech and try to avoid certain sounds, words, or social situations where they are required to speak.

In the past, parents were encouraged to adopt a ‘wait and watch’ approach when it came to signs of stuttering in the hope that the stutter would resolve on its own. However, this has since be debunked, and new research strongly emphasises the importance of early intervention in addressing stuttering difficulties, particularly considering the potential long-term impacts.

If left untreated, your child may have difficulty communicating their needs and wants and struggle to engage in meaningful conversations. Your child may also re-arrange their words and sentences to attempt to avoid a stutter. Ongoing problems with communicating can increase anxiety and frustration, and lead to reduced confidence, reluctance to participate in school activities and avoidance of social situations.

Children with stuttering difficulties can also present with language delays or articulation delays.

Stuttering can be a very complex area to treat and can be affected by many different factors. The Speech Pathologists at A Growing Understanding offer a point of difference with stuttering assessment and treatment. We have advanced training in stuttering via the Lidcombe Program. This is the most recognised and accredited childhood stuttering program for young children.

For most children, stuttering therapy will begin with an assessment. This assessment gives our speech pathologists a chance to get to know your child, discuss your child’s history (including questions associated with your own observations i.e. ‘how long your child has been stuttering’, ‘does it bother them’ etc.), play together and observe your child’s speech patterns.

Following an assessment and review of the results, our speech pathologists will work directly with you in administering and supporting ongoing practice and strategies to help your child build confidence and produce words and sentences. For school-aged and older children, we utilise ‘Smooth Speech’ programs which are designed to give your child specific tools to reduce or eliminate their stutter.

What to Look Out for with Stuttering:

  • Does your child repeat sounds or parts of words i.e. “wha..wha..what are you… you…d…d…doing?”
  • Does your child stretch their speech sounds i.e. “whaaaaaaaat are you doing?”
  • Does your child struggle to get their words out?
  • Does your child inject additional sounds or words into their sentences like “um” and “like” excessively?
  • Does your child get frustrated when speaking and avoids social situations?

Remember, every child develops at their own pace, but if you are concerned, talk to us today. Our friendly team of experienced speech pathologists are here to guide you through your concern and help you take the best next step.