What is stuttering?

Stuttering occurs when a child’s rhythm of speaking is disrupted. The child knows what they want to say but at that moment struggle to do so because a sound becomes repeated, stretched out or completely blocked. Many young children can go through a stage of repeating words and sounds as they learn to talk, particularly as they learn to put words together in short sentences. Some children can recover from stuttering naturally however, it is important for treatment of stuttering to commence some time within 12 months of the stutter first appearing.


What causes stuttering?

There have been many theories proposed over the years however, currently there is no known cause for stuttering. It is probable that stuttering is due to some underlying problem with the brain processes that produce speech. Stuttering is a physical disorder and it is not thought to be caused by psychological factors such as nervousness, stress or worry nor parenting methods or the way parents talk to their children. However, psychological factors such as anxiety or stress can make stuttering worse. Stuttering can tend to run in families with boys more typically affected than girls.


How do speech pathologists help?

The most widely accepted program for young children is the Lidcombe Program although speech pathologists may tailor other treatment methods to meet a particular client’s needs. The Lidcombe Program relies on close collaboration with parents and it focuses on reinforcement and rewards for fluent speaking as the parents spend time each day talking with their child.


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