Childhood-onset fluency disorder or stuttering is a speech condition that disrupts the normal flow of speech. Here’s everything you need to know about stuttering.

Childhood-onset fluency disorder or stuttering, is a common occurrence in children of ages 2 and 6. As per the data from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Diseases, approximately 5-10 percent of all children will stutter for some period in their lives. It is largely defined as a speech disorder characterized by the repetition of syllables, sounds, or words. Here’s everything you need to know about childhood-onset fluency disorder or stuttering.

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a disorder that impacts speech and causes interruptions called blocks. A person who stutters is perfectly aware of what they want to say, but they struggle to speak coherently, as per the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Diseases. It could also be accompanied by struggle behaviours, such as fast eye blinks or lip tremors. Stuttering includes the repetition or prolongation of speech sounds, hesitations before and during speaking, long pauses in speech, and effortful speech.

How to help a child overcome stutter
Stuttering generally affects children between ages 2 and 6. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Hence, the child gets anxious if he/she is required to speak and becomes uncomfortable. The child may not show any interest in participating in any social or academic environments. The child may avoid having conversations with other children and won’t be socially active, says Neonatologist and Paediatrician Dr Jagdish Kathwate.

Also Read: 6 tips to help your child to stop stuttering or stammering

What are the symptoms of stuttering?

The symptoms of stuttering may get worse if a person is excited, tired, or under stress. These situations can make the situation worse. Here are the signs and symptoms of stuttering that you need to look out for in your child:

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  • Repeating a sound, syllable, or word.
  • Filled or unfilled pauses in speech.
  • Speaking with jerking their head.
  • Excessive blinking or clenching while trying to talk properly.
  • Tension or movement of the face or upper body while talking.
  • Adding extra words or substituting words to avoid problematic words.
  • Becoming self-conscious while speaking.

What are the causes of stuttering?

There is no one cause of stuttering, a lot of factors can trigger the problem. Researchers continue to study the cause of stuttering. Here are the causes of stuttering, as explained by Dr Kathwate.

  • Family history of childhood-onset fluency disorder
  • Stroke or brain injury
  • Tourette’s disorder
  • Certain medications and experiencing higher levels of stress
  • Emotional trauma
  • Problems in speech motor control

Why early diagnosis is key to tackle this disorder?

Timely intervention will allow the child to be self-confident and speak fearlessly in public or even strike up a conversation without any difficulty. If not tackled at the right time, shuttering leads to frustration, embarrassment, bullying or withdrawal from social situations, emotional upheaval, and anxiety or depression in later life, says the expert.

Treatment of stuttering

Parents should seek expert advice if the child suffers from a developmental disorder. The child will be recommended speech therapy for fluency in the speech. He or she will be given unbiased feedback and strategies will be devised to improve speech. Even cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) will allow children to manage stressful situations to enhance their ability to cope, reducing the stuttering problem. CBT helps with relaxation and problem-solving strategies to overcome shuttering problems, shares Dr Kathwate.

Also Read: How to stop stuttering in kids

autism children
Stuttering can be treated with timely intervention. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock.

How should parents deal with shuttering in children?

Here are some ways for parents to deal with stuttering in children:

  • Pay close attention to how your child talks.
  • Do not interrupt your child when they are trying to complete their sentences.
  • Take time out to talk to your child without interruptions.
  • Try to speak slowly, which will also help your child do the same, which could reduce stuttering.
  • Aim to make the atmosphere around your child calm and relaxed so they feel comfortable talking freely around you.
  • Try your best to not bring attention to the disorder and avoid circumstances that put a lot of pressure on your child to speak.
  • Give compliments as opposed to criticism. Praise your youngster when they speak clearly instead of calling attention to their stammer.
  • Deep breathing will help ease the pressure on the child. It can calm down the child in distressing situations.
  • Do not criticize or punish your child for stuttering. Feelings of uneasiness and self-consciousness may worsen as a result. Encouragement and support are the best ways to improve the condition.
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