My child stutters – will she outgrow it? Should I be worried? In twenty-five years of practice as an SLP I have been asked this question many times. Many children start stuttering around age 2 1/2 – they repeat words and beginning sounds in words – and then the stuttering goes away in a few weeks or months. While it is true that many children will get over their childhood stutter without professional intervention, it is still a good idea to check with a speech-language pathologist who will answer your questions and possibly recommend an assessment of your child’s speech and language skills. Stuttering is a neurological condition that involves a misfire in the timing of phonatory and articulatory mechanisms that control speech. Environmental, emotional and psychological factors do not cause stuttering; however, a child at risk for stuttering may exhibit stutter-like behaviors or full blown stuttering, at times, if he or she is experiencing significant stress. Although it is very difficult to judge which children will stop stuttering on their own and which ones will need professional intervention, there are several factors that help speech-language pathologists make decisions about best practices regarding childhood stuttering. If your answer to any of the following questions is yes, then it is time to consult with a speech-language pathologist:
- Has your child has been stuttering for six months or longer?
- Is there is a family history of stuttering or other speech-language or learning disorders on either side of the family?
- Is your child is experiencing distress about his/her stuttering and/or is aware that stuttering is having a negative impact on his/her ability to communicate and on his peer and other relationships ( i.e., reports of being teased or not talking in social situations)?
- Does your child have a history of early speech-language difficulties?
Stuttering is a complex speech problem, but help is available. Speech-pathologists are always happy to answer your questions and concerns!