What is Stuttering?
Stuttering is defined as a “disruption of the fluency of one’s speech”. It can take different forms which vary in severity:
• Repetitions of whole words: “Mum-Mum.”
• Repetitions of sounds: “M-m-m-um.”
• Prolongations: Drawn-out sounds such as “Muuuuuum.”
• Blocks: Blocking is when it looks like the speaker is unable to let the sound out. Blocks may be silent or audible.Stuttering can have a variety of features. A person who stutters may also:
• Have facial or body tics.
• Avoid particular sounds, words or phrases because they know it will trigger a stutter.
Is stuttering a typical part of development?
Stuttering is not a typical part of development, however occasionally even adults will repeat words when speaking. Word repetition, on its own, is not considered a major concern, however if you are unsure it is recommended that you seek assessment by a Speech Pathologist.
Will my child grow out of their stutter without treatment?
A common misconception about stuttering is that children will “grow out” of their stutter. Although it is true some children naturally recover from stuttering, there is currently no way to distinguish these children early on, from children who will continue to stutter into their adult lives. As Speech Pathologists we aim to treat all stutters, to minimise the impact it may have on other areas of life.
How is stuttering measured?Within assessment Speech Pathologists take a baseline measure of a natural conversational sample. It is important interaction is as natural as possible, so the therapist can get a good representation of the child’s stutter. Measures are taken in every treatment session because stuttering is known to fluctuate in severity. This way the therapist can monitor progress. The Speech Pathologist will then calculate the following measures:
• Percent Syllables Stuttered: Calculated by the number of stutters divided by the number of syllables spoken.
How is stuttering treated?
Parental participation in therapy can greatly increase the child’s chances of success. This is especially true within the realm of stuttering. Therefore it is likely your Speech Pathologist will encourage parents, teachers, and the child’s other main conversational partners to become involved in therapy. At Speakable we use recent, evidence-based approaches to treat stuttering, known as the Lidcombe program. Please click here for more information.
What can I do?
1. Praise your child when they use fluent (“smooth”) speech by saying something like, “That was really smooth!”
2. Encourage self-correction. Help your child tune into their own fluency by asking questions like, “Were there any bumps there?”
3. Interrupt your child’s speech when they stutter by saying something like “Oh that was bumpy.” You can also interrupt them with the word they are attempting to say. For example, if your child stutters on the word ‘banana’, encourage them to self-correct by saying, “Do you want to say banana smoothly?”
Where can I get more information?
Check out the Australian Stuttering Research Centre