As parents we can often worry at different stages, whether our child speech development is on track and age appropriate, and for many of us, stuttering can be of particular concern.
Stuttering, or stammering as it can also be known, is not uncommon in children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, and is the disruption in the normal pattern of speech. This can take many forms. For example, most of us would automatically associate a stutter with the repetition of a sound of syllable at the begging of a word.
“C-C-Can I have…”
But a stutter can also present itself as a prolongation of a sound such as ‘Mmmuummmy.”
Lastly a stutter may be characterised by complete stoppages in speech where the airflow of speech is blocked and no sound is heard. In these cases speech can sound forced, tense and jerky.
Whilst stuttering can sometimes resolve itself naturally it is important, if you have concerns about your child’s speech, to have them properly assessed by a qualified speech therapist. They are best equipped to advise you whether to adopt a “watch and wait” approach to see if the stuttering corrects itself naturally, or whether treatment should be started immediately. Stuttering is more difficult to treat as children get older, so early intervention before the age of 6 years is most effective.
Signs that you should have your child evaluated by a speech therapist;
- Speech is difficult or strained
- Your child begins to avoid situations that require them to speak
- Stuttering becomes more frequent and gets worse with time
- You child’s stutter is accompanied by body/facial movements
- The stutter also involves a vocal tension that results in a rising pitch when talking
- Stuttering continues after the age of 5
Treatment for Stuttering
In Australia the Lidcombe Program is considered best practice treatment for young children who stutter. The Lidcombe Program is essentially a parent training program whereby parents are taught to provide carefully worded and well-timed feedback to help regulate their child’s speech during specific games and naturally occurring situations. Treatment is fun and simple to administer, and parents can find it very empowering to learn the skills to help their child not only during the therapy sessions, but also at home and during everyday life.
If you have any concerns about your child’s speech you can contact Box Hill Speech Therapy Clinic, 662 Elgar Road, Box Hill North Vic 3129
Phone: (03) 9899 5494
Fax: (03) 9899 9508
Visit the Box Hill Speech Therapy Clinic website for more information.
Vince Borg (Adult and Child Speech Therapist, Melbourne)
Vince Borg is Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic’s principal therapist, bringing a wealth of experience and innovation from his 30 years of practice.Vince has worked in the eastern suburbs for over 22 years, spending 10 years as Chief Speech Pathologist at Box Hill Hospital before working full time in private practice. Vince is the stuttering specialist, and is skilled at working with children and adults of any age. Vince’s sessions are fun and practical, and encourage parental involvement.
Vince is also a trained Orofacial Myologist, working with clients who have an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder. Our Orofacial Myology program can be complementary and beneficial to some clients in combination with orthodontic or specialist dental treatment such as teeth straightening or oral surgery. Vince was the founder and chair of the Stuttering Interest Group and a member of the Paediatric Interest Group. Vince is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist with Speech Pathology Australia.