Parents often express concerns to me that their child stutters, yet identifying stuttering is not always simple. While for some children stuttering is resolved naturally over time without intervention, for others, if it is not addressed stuttering tends to increase in severity and continues as they grow older.
So how can you identify if your child is stuttering?
Become Aware Of The Different Types
There are several types of stutters. Becoming aware of them will help you determine whether your child is stuttering or not. The different types of stutters include:
1. Whole-word repetitions:
Your child repeats single words.
Example: “I am-am-am going to school.”
2. Sound repetitions:
Your child repeats a single sound in words.
Example: “W-w-will you go with me?”
3. Syllable repetitions:
Your child repeats a syllable in words.
4. Phrase Repetitions:
Your child repeats phrases.
Example: “Good thanks - good thanks - good thanks.”
When your child tries to say a word, it sounds as if the word is ‘stuck’ or being ‘blocked’ from coming out. Blocks usually indicate that your child is stuttering severely.
Your child stretches a sound in words for a long period of time. Prolongations also indicate that your child is stuttering severely.
7. Frequent Interjections:
Your child constantly says “um” when they speak.
Example: “Um I went to um um the shop and there um I um...”
8. Frequent Pauses:
Your child pauses frequently between their words.
Example: “I (pause) went to the (pause) playground (pause).”
Monitor Different Situations:
The speech fluency of a child who stutters often varies depending on the situation that they are in. If your child stutters, it is likely that this will become more apparent when they are excited, nervous or frustrated. For instance, your child may speak fluently during dinner time but stutter severely during an argument with their sibling. To help you identify if your child is stuttering, monitor their speech fluency in different situations.
Monitor Every Day:
You may find that your child’s fluency varies between days, such that, they stuttered severely yesterday, but you did not notice any stutters today. This variability makes it difficult for parents to confirm that their child is in fact stuttering. However, it is important to note that even if you think that your child stutters only on ‘some days’, they are still stuttering.
Consider Stuttering Severity:
You can use these three indicators to determine stuttering severity:
Mild stuttering: Your child stutters slightly. This will usually go unnoticed to all strangers and even some familiar people.
Moderate Stuttering: Your child stutters noticeably to both familiar people and strangers.
Severe Stuttering: Your child stutters frequently and this greatly interferes with their ability to express themselves.
If you think that your child is stuttering, it would be beneficial to arrange a fluency assessment with a Speech-Language Therapist soon. There is a large body of scientific evidence indicating that early intervention leads to better fluency outcomes in children.
As always, if you have any questions or comments you would like to share, feel free to write them below. Also, if you would like to be notified about my next post, subscribe to my mailing list and receive a free copy of The Speech and Language Development Table!
The Expat Speechie
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