A common speech disorder in young children can be stuttering (also known as stammering). Stuttering is described as interruptions in the normal flow speech and involves repeating or extending various phrases, words, syllables, and sounds. Some children may also have a form of stuttering where they find it difficult to start words. It most situations, children outgrow stuttering issues by the age of five, but it may last longer or be a sign of an underlying developmental problem in other children.

Medical experts believe that there are multiple factors which can possibly lead to stuttering. Approximately 60% of children who have stuttering issues have family members who also stutter, showing that genetics has a large impact on the speech disorder. Additionally, researchers agree that high levels of activity, rapid speech rates, and other developmental delays are important risk factors for stuttering.

Children tend to display signs of stuttering at around 18-24 months of age as they begin to develop certain speech and language skills. Stuttering may be random and spontaneous, or it can be frequent over a long period of time. If your child experiences frequent stuttering that seems to get worse over time, it may be necessary to go to a speech-language pathologist.

Stuttering in children tends to decrease significantly by the time they enter elementary school and improve their communication abilities. If your child struggles with stuttering while in school, it may be necessary to see a medical professional. It may also be helpful to speak to your child’s teachers in order to work around stressful speaking situations. Speech therapy can be a useful form of treatment if your child continues to struggle with stuttering.

Here are some steps you can take to help your child if you are concerned about his or her stuttering:

  • Do not push your child to always speak correctly. Provide confidence by speaking about stuttering in a positive and encouraging manner.
  • Practice communication skills during family meals. Avoid having distractions such as music and television during this time.
  • Speak clearly and slowly when communicating with your child.
  • Give your child time to finish their thoughts and sentences
  • Avoid interrupting your child and try to maintain steady, natural eye contact when engaged in conversation
  • Contact a Speech-Language Pathologist and pursue treatment such as speech therapy

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