Supamamas speech difficulties and solutions
One of the aspects of difficulty in speech in toddlers is characterized by stuttering, which by definition is is a fluency disorder with unknown causes. It is believed that there may be indicators to if a child would develop a stutter.
Some strong ones include- family history of stuttering, child’s gender (boys 4-5 times more likely to develop a stutter), specific medical presentations and medications. And yes, it is believed that traumatic situations (whatever the child considers traumatic, eg. illness, death of a favourite pet, birth of a new baby, etc.) can present the onset of a stutter. This however is usually expected to coincide with the other indicators. Children as they’re learning how to talk may also experience stuttering, but this is referred to as ‘natural dysfluency’ and usually never long lasting (happens between the ages of 2.5- 3 yrs roughly)
The prognosis (likelihood of success with intervention) is better if early intervention is sought, i.e. if you seek treatment closer to the time you detect the stutter, the better the chances your child will manage the stutter. Also, a speech therapist can guide you on how to interact with your child so as not to exacerbate the stutter and assist your child to manage it effectively.
Stuttering is considered a misfiring of neural synapses in the brain and speech therapists treat it as a habit and as such treatment is usually behavior modification. We consider that the longer the child has been stuttering, the longer the habit has been allowed to set and that’s why we advise that parents seek treatment for their child early. We use the same principals of behavior change as used to change any other unwanted behavior; we will praise wanted behavior (no stutters) and not draw negative attention to unwanted behavior (stutters). There are treatments for children which give very good outcomes, but the complication is that stuttering is a very relapse prone and high anxiety condition. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there and medical practitioners not referring children early enough to speech therapists is one of the reason we have adults who stutter.
Need more help? Get in touch with specialist Lorna Muthamia of Speech Therapy located in Lavington. Call 0788 700078/0728 663 136.