Stuttering

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What to expect

Stuttering

Stuttering is a speech disorder which is characterised by disruptions to the fluency of a child's speech. Speech and language therapy is highly beneficial for children who stutter, in helping and supporting them to communicate more effectively.

What is stuttering?

Stuttering, which can also be termed stammering is a difficulty with the normal flow and timing of speech. A child's speech may be interrupted by syllable repetitions, prolongation of sounds or complete blocks to their speech.

When a child is acquiring speech, as part of the learning process they may often stop, pause or stumble over their words. This is a natural process for children which they will often outgrow. However, for some children this difficulty may continue and will often result in a child developing a stutter.

What are the characteristics of stuttering in children?

Stuttering is characterised by disruptions to the fluency of the child's speech, this can result in the ineffective timing and flow of speech.

Stuttering is characterised by:

  • Sound or syllable repetitions. When a specific sound is repeated e.g. the “p” in ‘please' might be pronounced ‘p-p-p-please'.
  • Prolongation of sounds e.g. “p” in ‘please' may be pronounced ‘ppppplease'
  • Blockages can often occur in the middle of words causing a period of silence e.g. ‘p…..lease'.
  • The child's speech may sound jerky, forced or tense. This may result in a child avoiding certain sounds or words within their speech, or certain situations which may cause them to stutter.

What problems caused by stuttering in children can speech and language therapy help with?

There are a variety of problems caused by stuttering which can be helped by speech and language therapy. Problems caused by stuttering include:

What causes stuttering?

There is no known cause for stuttering, it is thought to be due to a number of factors. Factors contributing to stuttering can include:

  • Environmental.
  • Communication.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Lack of cerebral dominance.

How is stuttering diagnosed?

A stutter is diagnosed by a speech and language therapist. Some stutters can be easily diagnosed by listening to a child speak, however the speech and language therapist will have to carry out a variety of assessments to determine what type of dysfluency the child has, the cause of the stutter, what makes the stutter worse and also the severity of the stutter. All these factors will determine the type of treatment programme which is put in place.

An initial assessment will involve:

  • A detailed case history, including the child's development, medical history and whether any family members have / have had a stutter or speech problem.
  • A discussion with the parents and the child, addressing any concerns they may have.
  • An informal observation of the child's speech and language skills, this may involve a conversation or play session.
  • A more detailed assessment of the child's speech, this can include observing how many types of dysfluencies the child has in different situations and the coping strategies used by the child.
  • A discussion with the child and their parents / carers regarding the assessment results and what the necessary treatment plan will be.

How does speech and language therapy help stuttering?

Speech and language therapy can be very beneficial for children who stutter. The speech and language therapist will use a variety of treatment methods and techniques in helping children with stutters to become more confident communicators.

They type of treatment given will vary depending on the child's age, specific needs and abilities.

The speech and language therapist will encourage and teach the child to view speaking as a positive experience. Strategies can include:

  • Enhancing their fluency by using a slower speech rate and a soft onset of sounds when initiating speech.
  • Teaching the child that their stutter is nothing to be scared or embarrassed about, this can be done by creating a positive communication atmosphere.
  • Reducing facial signs of stress
  • Getting the child to repeat a problematic word, providing reassurance throughout.
  • Reducing their talking demands.
  • Breathing exercises.

Parent child interaction programmes have also been found to be highly effective for children who stutter, each programme will be tailored to the child's specific needs and requirements.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for stuttering involve?

Speech and language therapy will initially involve a detailed assessment of your child's skills and abilities. The assessment will be fun and motivating and will minimise the focus on your child's difficulty in order to reduce the child's anxiety.

Following the child's initial assessment the speech and language therapist will create an age appropriate speech therapy programme for the child, their parents and also others involved in their care e.g. teachers.

Each therapy programme will be tailored to the child's specific needs and abilities. Treatment may include one to one therapy or stuttering and dysfluency groups. Pre-school communication groups are also beneficial.

Following an initial assessment treatment at speech and language therapy can involve:

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

To arrange an assessment with one our speech and language therapists please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 0885 643.

Summary

Stuttering, which is also known as stammering is a difficulty with the normal flow and timing of speech. A child's speech may be interrupted by syllable repetitions, prolongation of sounds or complete blocks to their speech. The speech and language therapist will provide assessment and individualised therapy programmes for children who stutter. Speech and language therapy will be fun, motivating and will work on achieving a more positive view about stuttering enabling your child to communicate more confidently and effectively. Speech and language therapy will provide support, strategies and advice for the child, parents / carers and other professionals involved in their care, in helping to lessen the impact their stutter has on their lives. If you feel you and your child may benefit from our speech and language therapy services, please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 0885 643.


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Next steps

To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email office@slt.co.uk

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