Does Your Child Stutter? Managing Toddler Speech Problems
How is Stuttering Treated?
When you visit a speech-language pathologist (speech therapist), he or she will first evaluate your child to determine the extent of the problem. The evaluation will typically include a developmental history, an interview with both you and your child, and an observation and analysis of your child’s speech patterns.
Then, the speech-language pathologist will use one or more of several therapeutic techniques to increase your child’s verbal fluency. One method uses rhymes or song games, because children tend to speak more fluently without stuttering when they’re repeating melodic patterns. Another therapy involves modeling sounds, stretching out the first sound of each word gently (“rrrrrroad”) to encourage the child to ease into the word.
When you go through the speech therapy process with your child, you’ll also learn ways that you can help at home. You may be advised to:
- Provide regular opportunities for relaxed conversations with your child
- Speak slowly
- Avoid putting your child in potentially uncomfortable situations, for example, “Tell Grandma what you did in school today!”
- Never interrupt or rush your child—be patient when he has trouble getting the words out
- Don’t try to correct your child, but instead reassure him by saying, “Everyone has trouble saying what they want to say sometimes … It’s okay. Let’s try it together.”
Don’t call attention to your child’s problem, but don’t be afraid to talk about it either, particularly if your child expresses concern or appears frustrated. Acknowledge your child’s efforts to communicate and focus on the content of the message. “Tell your child that you understood what they said. Focus on what they’re saying, rather than how they’re saying it,” says Paul.
Was it Something I Said?
Finally, know that you are not the cause of your child’s stuttering. Decades ago, researchers theorized that parents’ reactions to their children’s normal speech imperfections led to stuttering. They now know that this is not the case. But the environment you create can influence your child’s stuttering—either negatively or positively. With the right guidance and professional treatment, the odds are that your child will grow up into an articulate young adult.
To learn more about stuttering or to find a speech-language pathologist in your area, visit:
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), 1-800-638-8255.
- Stuttering Foundation of America
- Stuttering Therapy
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