Supporting children who stammer
Stammering, stuttering and dysfluency all mean the same thing; a problem with the co-ordination and flow of speech. Around one in every 12 children will experience stammering, usually starting between the ages of 2 and 5 years.
You may notice:
Repeating g. mu-mu-mummy, I can’t – I can’t – I can’t do it
Prolonging sounds g. Ca _ _ _ _ _ _ an I come too? Shhhhhhall I put it here?
Blocking g. there may be silence as the child tries to speak
Giving up trying to speak at all
Using head and facial movements to help them when words get stuck
Stammering usually begins in young children, perhaps as soon as the child starts to speak. It can start gradually or suddenly and in some children it comes and goes. The majority of children will grow out of this stage after a few weeks or months, but about a quarter may continue to stammer and for some this may continue into adulthood. It is 3 to 4 times more common in boys than in girls.
We are NOT nervous
Welcome back to #WehaveaVoice! I will be starting with explaining exactly what a stammer is.
The following video will go through types of stammering such as repetition, blocking, elongating words and physical actions. I will disclose that even though this information can be applied to many people who stammer, it is still based on my own experiences and others may go through a stammer slightly differently.
“Hear the message not the stammer” The project is collaboration between Speech and Language Therapy at Humber NHS Trust, Artlink Hull, the general public and people who stammer. Stammering affects 5% of children and 1% of adults, and can significantly impact the communication between individuals.
Things to remember
• True stammering is a speech disorder. It is rarely the result of trauma or anxiety. It is not a normal part of a child’s speech development
• Situations where your child is excited, competing for the chance to speak, or upset may make the stammer worse, but they are not the cause of it
• Stammering tends to run in families so it is not unusual to find more than one member of the family who stammers. However, this is not because your child is copying someone else but because the stammer may be inherited. The gene for stammering was found in 2011.
• Parents do not cause stammering and it is not caused by nervousness or lack of confidence.
• Research shows treatment for stammering is most effective in children before the age of 6 years, but can be helpful at any age.
How you can help
Don’t give advice like ‘slow down’ or ‘take a deep breath’, it can draw attention to a the stammer
Give your child plenty of time to say what they want
Keep your own speech slow and calm
Keep natural eye contact
Listen to what they say rather than how they say it
Take turns in conversations and leave pauses
Acknowledge and reassure if your child shows frustration, just as you would for any other difficulty
With an older child, talk openly and positively about stammering. There are lots of famous people th
at stammer and having positive role models can have a beneficial impact on a child that stammers.
Speech and language therapy
Signs that your child would benefit from help include:
They are aged 3+, and have been stammering for several months and it has become more noticeable
A family member stammers or used to stammer
Your child is choosing to talk less than usual
They are worried about speaking to new people or in new situations
Speech and language therapy for stammering is delivered by a team of specialist speech and language therapists and can include:
1 to 1 therapy sessions
Therapy can help you and your child understand stammering, develop their confidence and reduce the impact it has on their life.
You can make a direct referral using the form here
British Stammering Association
HELPLINE 0808 802 0002, weekdays 10-12 and 6-8pm, confidential, free and anonymous
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
British Stammering Association – expert parent
Action for Stammering Children
Stambassadors –people who stammer sharing their stories and inspiring young people https://actionforstammeringchildren.org/get-involved/stambassadors/
If you are an adult who stammers and would like help, contact the Norfolk community Health & Care Adult Dysfluency Clinic on 01603 255753