When to seek help
As children develop language around 5% go through a phase of stammering, also known as stuttering or dysfluency. It involves one or more of the following:
- Repeating words or parts of words (e.g. "b-b-b-bus")
- Lengthening sounds (e.g. "going to sssssssssschool")
- Blocking - where the child is trying to make a sound but nothing comes out.
Most of these children will stop stammering without therapy. One in five are at risk of persistent stammering. As a guide your child is more at risk of persistent stammering if he/she:
- Has a relative who has continued to stammer into adulthood
- Has been stammering for over 12 months
- Has experienced a stable level or worsening level of stammering over time
- Has difficulties with pronunciation
- Has delayed or advanced language skills.
Even if your child does not fulfill any of these criteria it is advisable to seek help from a qualified speech and language therapist if your child seems aware or concerned regarding the stammer. This will ensure that you know the best way to help your child to become fluent again. It is vital to know that parents do not cause stammering, but there is lots that you can do to help.
What I offer
- A specific stammering assessment. I have training and experience in carrying out assessment of children who stammer. This involves gathering detailed information from you. It enables me to identify factors which are contributing to your child's stammer and the best strategies to help. By it's nature stammering varies from day to day so I will ask you about the stammering you have heard as well as listening to your child. I will also assess their pronounciation and language skills as we know that these skills may impact on children's fluency. After the assessment I will give you and your child's nursery and preschool advice and activities to help increase your child's fluency.
- I am trained and experienced in delivering Palin Parent Child Interaction therapy. This has been shown by research to result in significant reductions in the frequency of stammering in children who are at risk of persistent stammering. It involves structured play sessions using video feedback, family strategies and, where appropriate, direct strategies the child can use to promote fluency.
- In most cases I would suggest a block of 6 weekly 1 hour sessions. To obtain optimum benefit from these sessions both parents should be present.
- I also offer therapy sessions for older children and teenagers who stammer. This involves problem solving specific situations, using techniques which can aid fluency and building confidence in speaking. It is vital that the young person wants to work on their speech
How you can help
My top tips:
- Set aside a few minutes each day and give your child your full attention whilst playing with them in a calm relaxed way.
- Give your child extra time to talk by:
- Waiting for them to finish what they are trying to say without finishing their sentence or offering advice such as "slow down"
- Making sure that when you play together they are initiating as many conversations as you.
- Reduce any anxiety or pressure associated with talking by:
- Using fewer questions
- Responding to what your child has said rather than the way they have said it (e.g. "great thinking" rather than "that was a bit bumpy")
- Acknowledging the problem in a supportive way if they express frustration (e.g "talking can be tricky sometimes"). Never talking about it may make your child feel it is something too awful to talk about.
The following websites offer a wealth of information and advice