Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Focus on Stuttering

Have you wondered what the difference is between stumbling on a word and stuttering is? 

Stuttering occurs when a person knows what he or she wants to say but is unable to say it because of blocks or involuntary repetitions of words and sounds.  These events are most often accompanied by anxiety.

Between 1.4% of children two to ten years of age and from .4% to .8% of adults experience stuttering.  The spontaneous recovery rate in children is from 50% to 75% and in adults is less than 25%. Therapy focuses on a variety of treatments from modification of the dysfluencies, to altering speech patterns through various feedback strategies (auditory and visual). 

If you’re concerned about whether your child needs to be evaluated or if his or her stuttering will fade away like other phases, here are some reasons your child needs to have further evaluation of the stuttering:
1)    The stuttering has been present for at least six months
2)    The child begins to show signs of anxiety associated with the stuttering
3)    The types of “speech blocks” are associated with tension around the lips and face or occur with behaviors such as repetitive ticks.
4)    Part word repetitions are prolonged or change from the correct vowel to an “uh” sound.  For example, instead of “be-beach,” the child says, “buh-buh-buh-beach.”

A parent’s reaction to stuttering can have an impact on the child. Here are a few important things to keep in mind before your child is evaluated by a profession:
1)     Do not call attention to the moments of dysfluency
2)    Do not make the child “correct” his speech by repeating it again.
3)    Give your child your full attention when he/she is speaking.
4)    Try not to interrupt your child.
5)    Remain calm so that your child does not feel rushed.

Sharon Peterson, MA, CCC-SLP, is a Senior Speech Language Pathologist at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford.

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