Many children start stuttering as they learn to talk. During this time, a child's speech and language, thinking, and motor skills are still developing and it may be hard for them to get their words out. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Stuttering Foundation are collaborating to raise awareness among parents and caregivers about the benefits of early intervention for children who stutter.
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. Before this age, you may hear your child repeat words and say "uh" and "um." This is normal. It should happen less often as speech and language skills develop. However, stuttering often begins during this same time period. If parents are concerned, they should educate themselves about stuttering and seek advice from a speech-language pathologist.
A child may be at a higher risk for stuttering if:
- other family members stutter
- stuttering lasts longer than 6 months
- the child begins to stutter after age 3½
- the child has other speech or language problems
"There can be no doubt that early intervention is the most powerful tool we have to prevent stuttering from becoming a lifelong concern," emphasizes Jane Fraser, president of the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation.
"Consult with a speech-language pathologist if you are concerned about your child's speech," ASHA President Paul Rao, PhD, CCC-SLP, says. "The speech-language pathologist will test your child's speech and language, show your child new and easier ways to talk, and give you tips to help your child at home and at school.
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.StutteringHelp.org or www.asha.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 145,000 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 65-year-old 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.