Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about your child's development, including your child's stuttering. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist known as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who can evaluate your child and determine whether or not there is a risk of a long-term problem. In most cases involving children, treatment primarily focuses on training and working with the parents to develop techniques to help the child cope with and get beyond his or her stuttering.
There is no "cure" for stuttering, and no drug has been approved to treat stuttering. Sometimes the SLP will work directly with the child to develop individual behavioral techniques that can help the child learn not to stutter. The actual therapy may vary from child to child depending on the child's particular circumstances.
For children who have a severe problem with stuttering, early evaluation and intervention is very helpful. Signs to look for that suggest you should have your child evaluated include:
- Stuttering that becomes more frequent and gets worse with time
- Stuttering that is accompanied by body or facial movements
- Speech that is especially difficult or strained
- Avoiding situations that require talking
- Vocal tension that results in rising pitch while talking
- Stuttering that continues after a child has turned 5 years old
How to Help Right Away
Try to model slow and relaxed speech when talking with your child, and encourage other family members to do the same. Don’t speak so slowly that it sounds abnormal, but keep it unhurried, with many pauses.
Slow and relaxed speech can be the most effective when combined with some time each day for the child to have one parent’s undivided attention. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time when you are doing nothing else but listening to your child talk about whatever is on his mind.
When your child talks to you or asks you a question, try to pause a second or so before you answer. This will help make talking less hurried, more relaxed.
Try not to be upset or annoyed when stuttering increases. Your child is doing his best as he copes with learning many new skills all at the same time. Your patient, accepting attitude will help him.
If your child is frustrated or upset at times when her stuttering is worse, reassure her. Some children respond well to hearing, “I know it’s hard to talk at times...but lots of people get stuck on words...it’s okay.” Other children are most reassured by a touch or a hug when they seem frustrated
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