We’ve found that even after the success of The King’s Speech (which did a great job of bringing stammering into the public eye), there’s still a real lack of understanding.
Stammering, which is also known as stuttering or dysfluency, often begins at a young age (usually between 2 and 5) and while some children grow out of it, others won’t. According to the Stammering Centre, about 5% of young children will have difficulty with fluency at some point in their development, but about 1% will continue to stammer into adulthood.
For some it starts gradually, while for others it can begin quite suddenly, but either way, it can be quite a worry. If you’re a parent of a child who stammers, it’s not always easy to find useful information or help.
That’s why we’ve put together some need to know info on stammering, so that you can do your best to help your child, if they’re displaying signs of stammering, including some top tips on things you can start straight away!
What is stammering?
Stammering can take many different forms, and is different for everyone. Common features include repeating of words and syllables, lengthening or blocking sounds, tense muscles and disrupted breathing when speaking.
Remember, if your child is displaying a few of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve developed a full stammering problem.
What causes stammering?
The causes of stammering are unique in each child, but are usually a combination of many factors. Physical factors can include genetics (it’s possible to inherit a vulnerability to stammering), the nervous system, gender, oral motor skills, and brain functioning.
When it comes to speech and language development, research suggests that when a child’s language is developing quickly, sometimes this dramatic increase can overload their ability to speak fluently. Parents often remark ‘their brain goes faster than their mouth!’
Remember: Whilst stammering can run in families, parents can not ‘cause’ stammering. Try to arrange some time when your child can have your undivided attention in a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
Although parents can’t cause stammering, the chaotic, busy nature of everyday family life can be hard for children who stammer to keep up with.
If everyone talks quickly, using complicated language at a rapid rate, the child may try to copy this behaviour, or feel pressured to keep up.
Remember: Small changes can make a big difference to supporting your child's fluency. Stammering and a fast pace of life don't always go well together, introducing some routine and structure can be helpful
People who stammer are not inherently shy or nervous – they have the same range of personality types as everyone else!
However, it’s important to remember that stammering can affect a person’s confidence and they may become shy as a result.
Remember: Praise your child for the things he or she does well (it doesn’t have to be related to talking) as this can help build confidence!
How to Help
There are lots of things we can do as parents to help children who stammer. Some top tips for you to try out at home include:
- Try to show you are at ease ready to listen to your child
- Try not to guess the word or finish sentences
- Use normal eye contact
- Listen to what your child is saying, not how it is being said
- Try to show that you're not in a hurry
- Monitor your own rate of talking and slow down if you need to!
- Remember: If you’ve got any concerns at all about your child’s speech and language development, then don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Have you got any more tips or questions? Let us know in the comments section.