My child has recently started stuttering. What should I do?
Stuttering is a common issue in young children. Many children experience a brief period of stuttering, which then resolves on its own. The onset of stuttering is usually between age 2 and 4 years. If your child has been stuttering for just a few weeks don’t worry. It is safe to wait for a few months to see if the stuttering resolves naturally.
You should make an appointment for a Speech Pathology assessment if:
- There is a family history of stuttering
- The stuttering seems to be severe
- The child is distressed by the stuttering, or avoiding speaking situations
- One or both parents feel concerned about the stuttering
- The child has been stuttering for six months or longer
- The child is stuttering and will soon be going to school
Young children (up to the age of 6 years) respond well to a stuttering treatment program known as the Lidcombe Program. The staff at Speech Results are highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of stuttering. First we assess the child by taking a detailed case history and taking a number of measurements of the child’s level of stuttering. The parents are also trained to measure the severity of stuttering. The first phase of the treatment program normally involves 3-4 months of weekly appointments in the clinic, with daily home practice provided by the parents. The second phase involves less frequent visits to the clinic to ensure that a high level of fluency is maintained.
If you have more questions about your child stuttering, please contact us.
Should I be worried about my child's lisp?
At Speech Results we frequently assess and provide advice for children who have problems articulating the consonant sounds /s/ and /z/. There are two common problems with /s/ sounds: Inter-dental /s/ and Lateral /s/.
Speech Pathologists refer to this pattern as inter-dental /s/ because it involves placement of the tongue between the teeth. The effect is a distorted sound which can be similar to the /th/ sound. The problem can be acoustic (inaccurate sound), cosmetic (the child’s tongue is very prominent during speech) or both. Usually only the /s/ and /z/ sounds are affected, but some children may also have inter-dental productions of the sounds /t, d, n, sh, ch, and j/.
This pattern is quite common in young children, and may resolve without therapy by about 5 years of age. Use of a dummy, or finger / thumb sucking tend to promote a forward tongue pattern, and we recommend that these issues are addressed as soon as possible. Any medical issues such as large tonsils or adenoids also need to be investigated, so that the child is able to breathe through the nose and keep the lips and jaw closed.
If the inter-dental /s/ does not resolve naturally, therapy will be required. Treatment is very effective in children aged 8 to 10 years, when at least the first 8 adult teeth have appeared. These children often have an associated problem, known as a tongue thrust swallow, or forward swallow which also needs to be treated.
The lateral /s/ has a different quality to the inter-dental /s/. It is a slushy and distorted sound which gives the child’s speech an unusual quality. The lateral /s/ is produced when the child directs air down the sides of the mouth instead of centrally along the tongue. Some children respond quickly and easily to treatment, while others may find it more difficult to change this pattern.