At a time when more than 3 million Americans stutter,the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Stuttering Foundation are collaborating to raise awareness among parents and caregivers about the warning signs and the benefits of early intervention of stuttering.
The effort is the organizations' way of marking International Stuttering Awareness Day on October 22.
Nearly 5% of all children under the age of 7 go through a period of stuttering. Children often stutter when learning to talk, and at times their speech may not be smooth. Children may also repeat whole words or phrases, but this should only occur occasionally, not all the time. This is normal and should not cause you to worry. However, a child may be at risk for stuttering if he or she
- repeats parts of words such as t-t-t-table or tay-tay-tay-table
- uses the "uh" sound (instead of the correct vowel) when repeating words like tuh-tuh-tuh-table
- prolongs or holds a sound too long like sssssun
- has an uneven rhythm when repeating sounds like b-b---b---boy
- opens his or her mouth to speak and nothing comes out
- has breaks or stops in between repetitions of sounds
- struggles to produce speech by making a face or getting very tense when trying to speak
The causes of stuttering can be different for everyone. A child may be at a higher risk for stuttering if
- other family members stutter
- stuttering lasts longer than 6 months
- they began to stutter after age 3½
- have other speech or language problems
In addition, boys are at higher risk of stuttering. Girls are more likely than boys to outgrow stuttering. In fact, three to four boys continue to stutter for every girl who stutters.
"In the past, experts incorrectly believed that paying attention to the child's stuttering would exacerbate the situation," said Stuttering Foundation Vice-President Lisa Scott, PhD, CCC-SLP. "Children who stutter will have significantly less disfluent speech and a higher recovery rate if they are treated when they are young."
Early intervention of stuttering is generally more effective than waiting; therefore "if you are concerned about your child's speech, consult with a speech-language pathologist who works with children or specializes in stuttering," ASHA President Tommie L. Robinson Jr, PhD, CCC-SLP says. "The speech-language pathologist will be able to determine whether the child is stuttering and can show your child new and easier techniques to speak properly," Robinson adds.
For free information on stuttering, contact ASHA at (800) 638-TALK (8255) or the Stuttering Foundation at (800) 992-9392. You may also visit www.asha.org or www.stutteringhelp.org. To find a speech-language pathologist in your area, go to www.asha.org/findpro/.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 140,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.
About the Stuttering Foundation
The Stuttering Foundation provides resources, services, and support to those who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering. It provides education, training, and information to professionals, children and adults who stutter; parents, teachers, and all those concerned about stuttering; and is a valuable resource for speech-language pathologists working in the schools with children of all ages.