3 ways speech therapy can help school-age children who stutter

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3 ways speech therapy can help school-age children who stutter

Children typically start stuttering between 2.5 to 3.5 years of age. The gold standard recommendation is to get help for stuttering as soon as it starts. This is because we don’t know which children may “recover”, and we also don’t want to give children’s brains the opportunity to get better at stuttering.

Most children who seek early treatment from stuttering can recover, however this is not always the case. In other cases, stuttering can start later, or even become more severe as the years go on - causing parents to seek help later on.  Approximately 5% of children stutter at some stage in their development, with 1% continuing to stutter by late childhood. 

Many parents can feel despondent by the time they seek help for an older child who stutters. Parents often doubt if the stutter can be overcome later on, and are not sure if treatment is available - let alone successful.

However, speech pathologists who specialise in stuttering management can make a huge positive impact in the lives of older children who stutter. 

3 ways speech pathologists help school-age children who stutter: 

  1. Attitudes to their talking and emotions they experience

Children who stutter can develop negative attitudes to their stuttering as young as 2 years old. So if a child has continued to stutter once they start school - it is likely they have some negative attitudes and feelings about their talking. They also would have had lots of experiences with their stuttering - unfortunately many likely to be negative. For example, the rates of bullying are significantly higher for children who stutter, and even friendly peers are known to become aware of stuttering and ask questions about it.

Discussing feelings and attitudes about talking is a crucial part of speech therapy - even before aiming to reduce stuttering. Feelings are always acknowledged and improving confidence and positivity about talking is a key focus.

  1. Get more control over their talking

According to people who stutter, one of the most frustrating and debilitating parts of stuttering is the feeling and experience of losing control when the stutter comes on. This means that when a stutter happens, people who stutter often feel powerless in that moment and just have to wait for the stutter to pass before continuing to talk. In severe cases, I have observed children or adults taking up to 60 seconds or more to get out a sound or word - which really affects how well these people can communicate

In stuttering therapy, a key focus is learning how to quickly get control in the moment of stuttering, enabling children to continue talking successfully and effectively even after a stutter.

  1. Learn tricks to be more fluent

There are many tricks and strategies that can be learnt, to help children become more fluent - particularly in moments where having smooth speech or fluent talking is important, e.g., for a school presentation or a birthday speech for a special family member. Children can be taught how to make simple and very slight changes to their speech, which aims to make their brain and “muscle memory” incompatible with stuttering.

Treatment for school-age children who stutter is available, and is very effective in helping children manage the emotions about their stuttering, get more control over their talking, and enact proven and evidence-based strategies to reduce their stuttering.

Get in touch with Dr Kerianne Druker, a PhD qualified speech pathologist and stuttering specialist for a free discussion about how we can help your school-aged child who stutters. Book now

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