You may notice that many young children go through a period during which they are more disfluent. However, there is a difference between typical developmental disfluencies and true stuttering! Children who demonstrate typical developmental disfluencies are experiencing disfluencies that do not have an impact on the child’s ability to comfortably communicate and do not put the child at risk for stuttering as they get older. But if a child is truly stuttering they are more likely to become aware of their disfluencies as they get older and are at risk of developing negative thoughts, feelings, and reactions to those stuttering moments. Stuttering is NOT an emotional disorder but it can certainly have an emotional impact. Kids who stutter are also at risk for stuttering that may persist into adulthood. Stuttering is a neurological disorder and for many, there is a genetic component as well. Although stuttering is neurological, approximately 80% of children who are truly stuttering outgrow it!
The tricky part is that developmental disfluencies and true stuttering often sound very similar and it may be very difficult to know what you are hearing. If you have concerns, follow your gut! It is helpful to get the opinion of a speech-language pathologist that specializes in working with young children who stutter.
If therapy is recommended, families of preschoolers often begin by participating in a parent training program. The clinician will work closely with parents/caregivers and families to help them understand stuttering and to begin making subtle changes to the way they communicate with their child. Families will also learn ways to support their child’s confidence and communication skills as they continue to grow. Although therapy concentrates on changes the family can make, this does NOT mean that the way they were previously interacting with their child caused the onset of stuttering! But now that the family is aware that their child is predisposed to stuttering there is so much they can do to make speaking easier for their child!
If your child is between the ages of 2 and 6 and you have concerns that they are stuttering, please CLICK BELOW to schedule a consultation or contact Brooke Leiman Edwards, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F at 646.403.3519 or Brooke@SAY.org.