Helping Children who Stutter
by Lori Melnitsky, MA CCC-SLP
Stuttering is often a mystery to parents as well as the general population. Some children start and suddenly stop. Others persist and the exact cause is unknown. What is it? Stuttering is an interruption in the normal flow of speech. Between the ages of 2 and 5, many children exhibit stuttering or dysfluencies. Often it is developmental but we don’t know who will outgrow it. This is why early intervention is key. Warning signs include family history, signs of struggle, secondary behaviors (eye contact avoidance, extraneous body movements to get a word out) and persistent stuttering for more than three months.
Stuttering consists of prolongations (ex: snake), repetitions of words (ex: IIIII want pizza), use of filler words (ex: um, like), blocking (silence before talking), struggle, and part word repetitions. It can be involve one characteristic or a combination of many.
Children who stutter need time to talk and formulate their thoughts without feeling rushed. It is best to listen to them talk and not interrupt. Maintain eye contact and listen to the message. It is advisable to comment instead of asking repeated questions (for ex: I like your art project, i wonder who helped you make it). Saying take your time, take a breath and slow down will increase awareness and often increase stuttering. Interestingly, asking them to say a stuttered word over will often result in that word being produced fluent but it has not benefit to the child.
If your child is stuttering, please seek an evaluation with a speech language pathologist who specializes in stuttering. Before the age of 7, the goal is to attempt to eliminate stuttering or decrease it significantly. Help is available past this age but more in the management of stuttering and learning of fluency tools. Remember waiting and seeing if they grow out of stuttering is not the answer. For more information, please contact Lori@allislandspeech.com or visit www.allislandspeech.com (516-776-0184).
Lori Melnitsky, MA CCC-SLP is a licensed speech/language pathologist. She directs All Island Speech and Stuttering Therapy (offices in Plainview and New York City). Lori is Lidcombe Trained in Childhood stuttering. She is a frequent lecturer on stuttering , dyslexia, and speech/language disorders. Lori overcame a severe stuttering disorder to help others improve their communication and literacy skills
Lori Melnitsky, MA CCC-SLP
Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist
Director, All Island Speech Therapy
Lidcombe Stuttering Trained
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