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Is My Child Stuttering?

When children are between the ages of 2 and 5, parents often notice periods of speech that makes them ask, “Is my child stuttering?” It’s important to know the difference between “normal disfluencies” and true stuttering behaviors. Below are some differentiations between the two that may help you decide whether or not seeking a speech pathologist’s help is right for your child.

Normal Disfluency:
-Typically occurs between ages 2 and 5 years old.
-Is typically a short phase and does not last longer than 6 months
-Is characterized by repetitions of whole words or syllables (I.e. “Mom, mom, mom, mom, can I go outside?” Or, “da, da, da, daddy, come upstairs”)
-May be characterized by use of “filler” words such as “uh” and “umm”
-Is not accompanied by physical tension in the face or body
-Does not have an emotional or social impact on the child. The child continues to talk to peers and adults without seeing a significant increase in fear or avoidance behaviors.
-May disappear and reappear throughout the above listed ages as the child goes through different developmental stages
Developmental Stuttering:
-Typically begins between ages 2 and 5
-Lasts longer than 6 months, and may get worse
-Is typically characterized by some or all of the following:
     -Repetitions of syllables or sounds in any part of phrase of sentence (I.e. “m, m, m, m, mommy can I g, g, g, go outside?”)
     -Prolongations, or stretching out a sound (I.e. “mmmmmommy, ccccccan I go outside?”)
     -Blocks, or periods of silence, preceding a word that the child is struggling to initiate (“mommy, can I go __________outside?”)
-May also contain filler words like “uh” and “um”
-May be accompanied by secondary characteristics such as eye blinking, avoiding eye contact, extraneous movements of other body parts, lip smacking, tension in neck or mouth, etc.
-May negatively impact child’s willingness or desire to communicate with adults and peers

Speech pathologists are trained to work with children who stutter and are able to teach children a variety of strategies and techniques to help increase their fluency and to decrease any secondary behaviors!

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