As toddlers and preschoolers are starting to become more proficient with language and speech, they often stumble (stuttering) over their words from time to time. Growing pains in this phase are called dysfluency. It’s totally normal as it is a natural part of development. Yet it may be stressful as a parent when your child starts to struggle with being able to verbalize regular concepts throughout the day such as what they might want or need during meals or bedtime routines.
Experts in speech and language development noticed that there are two types of disfluencies that you should watch out for: Developmental and Pathological disfluencies. One gives you an idea of what’s going on inside while the other one warns you that something is happening outside which may affect their speech abilities at any given time of every day.
It is not uncommon for young children to have temporary difficulty speaking when they are developing. For example, it’s quite typical for a child to make brief intervals of slow, stuttering speech during their early developmental years. Often this happens while they are emotionally excited or in some other way anxious! In most cases, the fluency difficulties experienced by school-aged youngsters will resolve without intervention by the time they reach adulthood since it is something that can be found to occur within approximately 5% of all kids.
When someone who is stuttering tries to speak, they may have a difficult time getting their words out. They might struggle with the smoothness of what they want to say, or repeat the same word over and over when trying to communicate with others in a coherent manner. They also might draw out answers with “um” or “uh” where other people wouldn’t. People who have this condition are often referred to as people who stutter.
There are many evidence-based treatments for stuttering that target helping a person to speak more fluently, communicate more effectively, and participate in daily life activities. An SLP will work with the individual and their family to teach specific skills designed to reduce, control, and modify their stuttering, so they can speak more fluently. For younger children who are exhibiting early signs of stuttering, an SLP may instead focus less on specific skills for handling and managing stuttering situations in favour of shifting the communication environment itself which may be one of the biggest factors causing the child emotional stress or not permitting them to feel “comfortable” when speaking publicly or talking with others.
Stuttering and Childhood Anxiety
Individuals who stutter may become socially anxious and develop the fear of public speaking, or worry that their stuttering will undermine their performance at work or school. Contrary to popular belief, stuttering is not a mental health diagnosis and anxiety is not the root cause of stuttering either. However, it’s possible that an individual who stutters could develop social anxiety in reaction to poor perception of his speech impediment by others (for example: being teased), which has been identified as one cause of why many adult people who stutter suffer from anxiety conditions—particularly when it comes to situations like public speaking (which patients have cited as potential reasons for developing social anxiety).
The STG SPACE Stuttering and Anxiety treatment program helps parents understand how they can assist their child to overcome dysfluency (stuttering). This program takes time and includes a “maintenance” phase so that your child does not fall back into their previous behaviour with dysfluency problems. Nevertheless, spending sufficient time to help your child remediate speech is much more meaningful than letting them deal with their speech challenges at a later age. But, it should be done in a playful way so that your child does not get bored or frustrated even more.