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Did you know stammering usually begins between the age of 2 and 5 years (later onset may occur). This is a time when a child’s language skills are rapidly developing.

It can be a worrying time if your child begins to stammer. You might notice that it starts gradually or it may suddenly ‘appear’ overnight. In some cases a child’s stammer can disappear within a few weeks or months.

What causes stammering?

The answer to this question is unknown and research findings are conflicting. Research suggests that many factors affect the onset and duration of the stammer.

Characteristics of Stammering.

Your child may:

  • Repeat whole words, e.g. “but, but, but, I was first.”
  • Repeat single sounds or syllables, e.g. “w-w-where’s D-D-Daddy.”
  • Prolong sounds, e.g. “sssssssam is my best friend.”
  • Block sounds, the mouth is in correct position, but no sound comes out.
  • Show muscle tension shown in the face or body.
  • Display additional body movements – such as foot stamping to ‘get the word out’.
  • Look away during the moment of stammering.
  • Change their breathing pattern, for example your child may take a deep breath before speaking.
  • Change what they were going to say e.g. I want a ch-ch-ch……jam sandwich.”
  • Avoid speaking in certain situations such as answering questions in class.

Try to avoid

  • Finishing off your child’s sentences.
  • Telling your child to slow down.
  • Asking your child lots of questions.
  • Telling your child to take a deep breath.

What might help?

  • Ensure that you are looking at your child when they are talking (be aware of your facial expression).
  • Try to slow your rate of speech down and use pauses.
  • When you ask your child questions just ask one at a time and wait for their response.
  • Listen to what your child is telling you rather than how they are talking.
  • Praise your child for things (not related to talking).
  • Make sure your child is having enough sleep.
  • Having some quality, uninterrupted one-to-one play time with your child (even if it’s only 5 minutes)

If you or your child is concerned about stammering speak to your GP, Health visitor or Speech and Language Therapist

Sarah Neilson

Independent Speech and Language Therapist

Chester Speech Therapy

Take a look at our Facebook page @chesterspeechtherapy

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