As they are learning, it is not uncommon to hear them repeat parts of words. There is no awareness on the child’s part of any difficulty communicating. The dysfluency may occur for a week, a month, or longer and then stop. Or a child may be dysfluent for a time, stop, and then start again.
Parents’ reaction to this time is vitally important! If they become upset and correct and/or over protect the child, a true stuttering problem may develop. It is important to listen to what the child is saying instead of how he or she is saying it. Parents who adapt their speech skills by reducing their rate somewhat and taking a few seconds before responding to questions, are modeling speech behaviors that will assist the child through this period.
Approximately 1% of this “normally dysfluent“ group develop true stuttering. Of this group there are four times as many boys as girls. Contrary to popular belief, dysfluency is not related to an emotional problem. However, it can cause difficulty with self-esteem if it continues.
Stuttering or “secondary dysfluency” is characterized by frustration with communicating, unwillingness to speak, and physical characteristics such as blinking, grimacing, and odd body postures. When these occur, there is cause for concern and a speech professional should be contacted as soon as possible. To find out more about stuttering, please contact me.