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Stuttering is a speech disorder in which the normal flow of speech is disrupted by frequent repetitions or prolongations of speech sounds, syllables or words or by an individual's inability to start a word. The speech disruptions may be accompanied by rapid eye blinks, tremors of the lips and/or jaw or other struggle behaviors of the face or upper body that a person who stutters may use in an attempt to speak. Certain situations, such as speaking before a group of people or talking on the telephone, tend to make stuttering more severe, whereas other situations, such as singing or speaking alone, often improve fluency.
Forms of Stuttering
What can Parents do?
Children who are in the process of developing speech and language. This relaxed type of stuttering is felt to occur when a child's speech and language abilities are unable to meet his or her verbal demands. Stuttering happens when the child searches for the correct word. Developmental stuttering is usually outgrown.
Neurogenic disorders arise from signal problems between the brain and nerves or muscles. In neurogenic stuttering, the brain is unable to coordinate adequately the different components of the speech mechanism. Neurogenic stuttering may also occur following a stroke or other type of brain injury.
Although individuals who stutter may develop emotional problems such as fear of meeting new people or speaking on the telephone, these problems often result from stuttering rather than causing the stuttering. Psychogenic stuttering occasionally occurs in individuals who have some types of mental illness or individuals who have experienced severe mental stress or anguish.
Provide a relaxed home environment that provides ample opportunities for the child to speak. Setting aside specific times when the child and parent can speak free of distractions is often helpful.
Refrain from criticizing the child's speech or reacting negatively to the child's disfluencies. Parents should avoid punishing the child for any disfluencies or asking the child repeat stuttered words until they are spoken fluently.
Resist encouraging the child to perform verbally for people.
Listen attentively to the child when he or she speaks.
Speak slowly and in a relaxed manner. If a parent speaks this way, the child will often speak in the same slow, relaxed manner.
Wait for the child to say the intended word. Don't try to complete the child's thoughts.
Talk openly to the child about stuttering if he or she brings up the subject.
Source: National Institute of Health, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. www.nidcd.nih.gov