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Stutter / Stammer In Children

If a child’s speech does not flow smoothly from the start of a sentence to the end it is often but not always a sign of a dysfluency also known as stutter (also called a stammer).

However, a certain level of normal non-fluency is expected during the language development period for children and this does not immediately mean that they have a Stutter. Most children will outgrow this non-fluency over time, but if they do not or if they stutter excessively this often indicates a more serious communication difficulty

Our Paediatric Speech Therapists are here to help your child to overcome their stutter in order to communicate, express themselves and be who they want to be… 

Symptoms Of a Stutter / Stammer

Stuttering may involve long pauses in the middle of a sentence, repetition of the first part of a word (wh-wh-where), interjections of smaller sounds/words (‘um’ or ‘eh’) or holding a single sound for a long time (baaaaall).

Young children who stutter may not be aware of their difficulty. As the child grows and matures they may become more aware of their difficulties. In many cases, children can become frustrated or embarrassed when communication becomes a daily struggle. It is even frustrating for parents when you cannot decipher their message and meet your child’s needs. Various factors have an effect on the ease or difficulty with which children who stutter can speak. These can include:

Environmental factors: A child who stutters may become more dysfluent when increased demands are made of the person in speaking situations, when the person has high expectations of him or herself in certain situations and with certain people.

Linguistic factors: Children who stutter do so on words which carry information and when using complex words of several syllables. They tend to stutter more at the start of sentences.

Physical factors: Sometimes it is more difficult for children who stutter to speak fluently, for example when they are feeling ill, stressed, tired, excited, or upset.

Psychological factors:  Children who stutter may become more dysfluent depending on; their feelings about their speech, their perceptions of themselves as effective communicators; and others’ reactions to their stuttering.

We recommend that you book in for a 30 minute informal assessment and we will be able to provide guidance on whether your child does in fact have a stutter and if so what options are available for treatment.

Treatment Of a stutter / Stammer

Depending on your Child’s awareness of their difficulties and their age, our expert Child Speech & Language Therapist will devise an individualised treatment plan using the latest evidence based practice.

Assessment: We will carry out a detailed case history with both parents if possible to discuss time and onset of the stutter and if there have been any changes in severity over time. We will also investigate the number of times your child stutters in a speech sample. We will look at the relevant environmental, linguistic and psychological factors that may be contributing to the issue.

We will always link in with your child's preschool and school on how best to support your child's communication and how to deal with incidences of stuttering.

Treatment: Indirect therapy

With pre-school children, indirect therapy is the method more commonly used for a stutter, and is carried out through you as parents. We aim to empower parents to support the child's communication and fluency at home through using various strategies. We tailor each session to your child's individual profile taking into account the various environmental, linguistic and physical factors which are unique to your child.  We often use video feedback of you interacting with your child to demonstrate the things you are already doing to support your child's communication and fluency.

Direct Treatment:

We also provide direct treatment for older children who stammer, again this will be tailored to your child's individual needs and unique profile.

Child Friendly: All treatment modalities that we use will be child friendly, we always tailor intervention to be age appropriate.

Guidance: We will guide you on the best ways to successfully transfer the skills learned in our clinic setting to home and other everyday settings.

Support: Worksheets will be provided each week in order to encourage and facilitate regular practice and improvement at home between your child’s sessions. At all stages throughout the treatment plan, we will provide detailed guidance for you on how to support your child’s communication development between sessions depending on the stage of treatment.


Our Expertise of a stutter / Stammer

Spectrum Health’s Speech and Language services Therapists can guide parents and educators on the appropriate ways to manage and enhance communication with a child who stutters.

We will assess, diagnose and provide treatment for a stutter.

All of Spectrum Health’s Paediatric Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy and have ample experience working with children who have a stutter.