The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Stuttering Foundation are working together during National Stuttering Awareness Week (May 7–13) to raise awareness with parents and other caregivers about the warning signs of stuttering and the need for early intervention for a child who stutters.
Often, children stutter when learning to talk, typically between 2 and 5 years old. During this age, as a child is in the midst of a major leap in language skills, it is natural that a child may have difficulty with fluency because speech and language, thinking, and motor skills are still developing. However, most children stop stuttering after a short period of time.
One or more signs may indicate stuttering may continue. The child may:
- Repeat parts of words, like "W-W-W-Where are you going?"
- Prolong or hold a sound too long, like "SSSSave me a seat"
- Appear very tense or "out of breath" when talking
- Speak in an uneven rhythm when repeating sounds, like b-b---b---baby
- Open his or her mouth to speak, but not make a sound
- Frequently use filler words, like "uh," "um," or "you know"
Children may be at a higher risk for stuttering if one or more of the following is true. They:
- Have relatives who stutter (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who stutters also)
- Have been stuttering longer than 12 months
- Began to stutter after age 3½ years
- Have other speech or language problems
- Are male (Stuttering is more common among males than females. Among elementary school-age children, it is estimated that boys are three to four times more likely to stutter than girls.)
"Early intervention is a must when it comes to stuttering," states Jane Fraser, President of the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation.
"If you are concerned about your child's speech, consult with a speech-language pathologist (SLP)," ASHA President Shelly Chabon PhD, CCC-SLP says. "SLPs evaluate children to determine how well they say sounds and use words. SLPs then work with the children to help them say words and sentences without stuttering."
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/profind/.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA, www.asha.org, is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 150,000 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.