Children Who Stutter: Techniques and Treatment
If you notice that your child has trouble with their speech, you need to observe their speech patterns. When do they stutter? Who are they around when it happens? Do they constantly repeat themselves, or does it only happen in certain situations? By answering these questions, you can work towards helping children who stutter.
Sometimes, stuttering can be hereditary. So, it’s important to find out if either parent previously had the same issue. This condition usually appears around two years of age and, in most cases, it resolves itself by the time your child is around 4-6 years old.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a communication disorder where there are involuntary interruptions in the person’s speech. They repeat syllables of words several times and often have muscle tension. Those who suffer from it are aware of their problem when speaking, which creates fear and stress every time they have to speak.
Children who stutter will experience different symptoms depending on what stage of development they’re at when the disorder appears. Here are four stages where stuttering may appear:
- Stage of initial repetitions. These occur when the child begins to learn language. They will hesitate and repeat themselves when speaking. It usually appears at 3 years of age.
- Convulsive repetition stage. At this stage, the repetitions are shaky and slower. This usually appears between 6 and 7 years of age.
- Confirming stage. Children who stutter at this stage will experience interruptions when speaking, which makes them feel embarrassed. So, they’ll stop speaking. The child thinks there’s a problem with the way they talk.
- Advanced stage. At this stage, children will stutter indiscriminately and the stutters may even be accompanied by movements. Also, they may experience respiratory issues.
How to help children who stutter
There are many different ways to help children who stutter. Their treatment will also depend on the stage of development they’re in. In addition, there are some children who will overcome their stuttering spontaneously without any treatment. However, you should always assess whether their recovery is definitive or if they may relapse in the future.
You should start treatment around 6 years of age. That way, you can take advantage of the fact that your child has yet to fully grasp their language. Different treatments include speech therapy and psychological therapy. The latter option is for children who stutter because of fear, stress, anxiety, avoidance behaviors, etc.
In addition, you shouldn’t follow every treatment in the same order. Also, some treatments will be effective for some children, but won’t work with others. Because of that, it’s important to have a specialist thoroughly evaluate your child’s problem. Then, the specialist can personalize their treatment.
How does the treatment work for children who stutter?
Stuttering is a complicated speech disorder. Your little one will depend on you as well as their specialist for support. Here are the basics of treatment:
1. Correct their mistakes and help change their negative mindset. Your child may say things like, “I’m never going to get it” or “I’m dumb.” Instead, teach them to think positively and to say, “I can do this,” “everything’s going to work out great”, or “I can tackle this challenge.”
2. Use breathing and relaxation techniques. Help them manage the tension and anxiety that their stuttering causes.
3. Manage avoidance behaviors in these situations using behavior modification techniques.
Helpful techniques for children who stutter
Sometimes, treatment may not completely fix your child’s stuttering. However, there are other techniques you can use that will help them:
- Maintain effective communication.
- Improve their fluency when speaking.
- Fully participating in school and social activities. If the person stuttering is an adult, these techniques will help ensure they’re participating in activities at work.
Let’s take a look at some of the techniques you can use to help children who stutter.
Cognitive-behavioral psychological therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps teach children to recognize and modify any thoughts that are causing anxiety and fear. Those thoughts are only making their stuttering worse. In addition, this technique helps children build their self-esteem, which may be low as a result of their stuttering. Also, it helps with stress and anxiety.
Speech therapy is conducted by a speech therapist. These professionals teach children to slow their speech down so they can detect what makes them stutter. At first, your child may be speaking at a slower pace so they can identify the cause of their stuttering. However, they’ll gradually start to speak more naturally.
There are some electronic devices that help with speech fluency. These are some examples:
- Delayed sound reception machines
- A machine that will mimic speech as if you were talking with someone else
- Devices you can wear throughout the day
It’s essential for parents to help with their child’s treatment. You can help them practice their coping techniques for stuttering. Ask your child’s speech therapist for some methods they suggest doing at home.
As you can see, treatment for children who stutter will depend on their individual needs. We’ve listed just the basic techniques and treatments your child could use if they’re dealing with this speech disorder.
In addition, it’s very important to observe your child. If you have any questions, you should see a professional so they can do a thorough evaluation of your child’s speech problem. Then, they’ll be able to guide your child’s treatment and recommend the best options.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Friedman, S. (2000). La Tartamudez en la Infancia. https://www.ttmib.org/documentos/Friedman1.pdf
- Morejón, A. R. (2001). Intervención sobre la tartamudez temprana. Revista de logopedia, foniatría y audiología, 21(1), 2-16.