Stuttering in Children

Stuttering in Children

Stuttering is a speech disorder in which a child repeats words or parts of words, especially the beginning of words. When speaking, a child may also have gaps when no words come out. Stuttering may happen more in certain situations, such as when a child is excited or trying to talk in front of strangers.

The cause of stuttering is not known. It tends to run in families. Stuttering usually starts between the ages of 2 and 5. It is more common in boys than girls.

Your child’s health care provider may recommend a speech and language evaluation if stuttering lasts more than 3 months and interferes with your child’s ability to communicate at school or at home. Therapy with a speech and language specialist can help your child learn how to slow down speech and breathe while speaking. Therapy can be very successful in helping children improve speech and reduce stuttering.

Most children will outgrow stuttering over time. Your child may be more likely to continue stuttering into adulthood if he or she has:

  • A family history of stuttering.
  • Other speech disorders.
  • Stuttering that lasts more than 6 months.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Take your child to a speech and language evaluation if this is recommended by your child’s health care provider.
  • Work with your child’s speech and language therapist to learn how to help your child at home.
  • Talk with your child’s teachers and caregivers about stuttering. Suggest ways that they can help and support your child while stuttering, such as:
    • Do not interrupt the child while he or she is trying to speak.
    • Do not look away while the child is trying to speak.
    • Do not finish sentences for the child.
    • Do not tease or let the child be teased about stuttering.
  • Keep all follow-up visits with your child’s speech and language therapist and primary health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your child stutters at home for more than 6 months.
  • Your child’s stuttering becomes worse or more frequent.
  • Your child is afraid or anxious because of his or her stuttering.
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