Alphabetic Guide to Child Care - Stuttering


Stuttering, or stammering, is a speech dysfunction where the words are spoken with hesitation, repetition, prolongation, or stumbling on one or more syllable of a word. Parents should bear in mind, though, that many children stutter when they are learning to speak. At this stage it is not a permanent problem, and the child will usually outgrow it as ease with language increases.

For a child who continues to show hesitation in speech after the age of four or five, the parents should consider getting professional guidance of a physician, speech therapist, or counselor as recommended by the child's pediatrician. The speech problem may be related to cerebellar disease or a neuromuscular defect or a problem with the voice box. There is also some research being done on hearing problems with stutterers. Some patients respond well to speech therapy when the sound of their voice is played back on a delay through earphones. The slight delay allows them to speak without hesitation. Why this works is not fully understood.

Stuttering can also be related to emotional or psychological problems. Stress from early childhood speech impairment may create a psychological block to speaking. Other problems may enter into the reason for stuttering. It is not uncommon for there to be both emotional and physical reasons for stuttering.

For more information, please call the toll-free hotline for the Stuttering Foundation of America at 800-992-9392. They will provide information and guidance to parents.

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