Intervention and Treatment

Stuttering

December 06 , 2016
Marwa Sati
Marwa Sati is a speech-language pathologist and an educational psychologist....More

Stuttering is a relatively rare speech disorder which affects more males than females. There are different kinds of stuttering with the most common being:

  • Repetition: when a whole word (I like-like-like ice-cream), a phrase (I am- I am- I am playing with my friends) or a syllable (I want a coo-coo-coo-cookie) is repeated in a sentence.
  • Blocking: when a syllable or a sound is not coming out or is stuck (the baby is (silence) crying).
  • Prolongation: when the sound is held in a word or a syllable (I am at hooooooome).

What causes stuttering?

Research and experts still don’t know what the cause of stuttering is, however they believe there is a number of contributing factors:

1- Hereditary factors: stuttering is believed to run in families. Most children who stutter have a family member who is a stutterer.

2- Developmental factors: these are factors that influence a child’s physical, cognitive, social, emotional and speech and language abilities which are developing very quickly. Sometimes, this rapid development can lead to stuttering in children who are predisposed to it.

3- Environmental factors: these factors can include the richness of the speech and language environment at home including communication with family members, stress-related events and the attitudes and expectations of the parents of the child. In addition to that, the child’s fear and anxiety of stuttering can make it worse.

How can stuttering be treated in children?

The best way to help a child who stutters is to work with a speech therapist. The child will be taught to use certain strategies to avoid, correct or pull out of a stuttering situation.

Speech therapy for stuttering focuses on having the child produce fluent speech as they learn to self-monitor. This is accomplished by having the child produce single words in a slow and relaxed manner. The progression usually occurs from using words to phrases to sentences and then onto conversations. These strategies will need to be reinforced in the home environment and at school and then the child will begin to use them independently. For some children, treatment techniques include helping them decrease their secondary behaviors such as blinking, moving their arm or leg and twitching.

 

Peers should be educated about their classmates stuttering difficulty because they might tease the child about speech or say mean things to the child.

 

What can I do to help my child at home?

1- Make sure you use a smooth and relaxed rate of speech while talking to your child.

2- While conversing with your child, be sure to pause slightly before responding.

3- Be sure to listen to what your child is saying without interrupting or finishing your child’s sentences.

4- Acknowledge stuttering when your child has difficulty speaking. This is done by telling your child that it’s ok to stutter and that you are attending and listening to your child’s needs.

5- Family members should be told of the importance of using a smooth and related speech rate while speaking with the child.

 

The best way to help a child who stutters is to work with a speech therapist. The child will be taught to use certain strategies to avoid, correct or pull out of a stuttering situation.

 

What can I do to help my child in the classroom?

Children who stutter usually have difficulties at school. The following recommendations can be given to the classroom teacher:

1- Children who stutter have difficulty completing their sentences and don’t like it when others finish off what they want to say. Instances like this will only increase their stuttering. Wait patiently for the child to finish what he or she has to say.

2- Be sure to watch your body language by not reacting to the child’s speech. Examples of this include keeping a neutral face and an unchanging expression when the child stutters.

3- Peers should be educated about their classmates stuttering difficulty because they might tease the child about speech or say mean things to the child.

4- Reassure the child and encourage them to come to you at any time to talk about any issues they might have.

5- Some children who stutter might start to perform poorly in the classroom. Examples could include not answering questions or speaking in front of the class. Be sure to monitor such changes and notify the child’s parents if they occur.

 

Adapted from Stuttering, an integrated approach to its nature and treatment by Theodore J. Peters and Barry Guitar.