Please welcome today's guest blogger, speech pathologist Vincent Borg from Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic. Vincent is a leading specialist in stuttering therapy with almost 36 years of practice. Vincent is here to share about stuttering; what signs to look for, what to monitor and the treatment options which may help! This is a subject close to home as I sought speech pathology assistance for my son before he started school so that we could address a mild stutter. We participated in the Lidcombe program which is mentioned in this article!
It’s a common concern we hear at our speech pathology practice, particularly from parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers, “Our toddler started stuttering overnight.” It can be particularly worrisome for parents when their child was speaking perfectly fine beforehand.
Between the age of two and four years old, children suddenly have so much to say! Quite often their little brains simply cannot keep up with all the things they want to say not to mention also trying to figure out how to put sounds and words together into phrases that make sense.
Signs of stuttering in toddlers and pre-schoolers
Stuttering can not only present itself as sound, word or phrase repetition, for example,‘w-w-w-will you play with me?’ or ‘can-can-can I go outside?’ or ‘I want to, I want to, I want to um go home now’ but can present itself as a stuck or blocked sound production or the stretching of sounds, for example, ‘Ca___n I have a drink please?’
The development of language skills is like a huge jigsaw puzzle for young children as they try to grasp new words, sounds and phrases and dysfluency quite often occurs during this developmental period. Some children outgrow their stuttering once they move through this phase and some don’t. It can bequite difficult to determine whether or not stuttering is normal or if it will pass, this is why it’s best to take a proactive approach.
Closely monitoring the dysfluency is essential and if you’re concerned or unsure about your child’s stuttering, seeking speech therapy for stuttering from an experienced speech pathologist will give you answers and set your mind at ease. Treatment is most effective if started before the child turns six years old.
What types of stuttering treatment are available? Do they work?
The Lidcombe Program is a best practice treatment for young children who stutter in Australia. The program is a parent training program which teaches parents how to provide feedback regarding their child’s speech that is carefully worded and well-timed, during specific games and naturally occurring situations.
Parents and children that have undertaken the Lidcombe Program say that the program is fun and easy to implement. Children enjoy coming to our clinic to engage in the ‘smooth talking games’ and parents feel very empowered because they are equipped with the knowledge and tools to be able to be a direct therapist for their child.
What is smooth talking?
Smooth talking can also be known as speech restructuring, smooth speech, prolonged speech or The Camperdown Program and it teaches children with a stutter to use a slightly altered speech style to control their stuttering. This approach is effective in reducing stuttering where accurate self-monitoring and close attention is paid to the technique. We rarely recommend this treatment for very young children but do recommend it in partnership with the Lidcombe Program for older children.
What things to monitor before attending stuttering therapy?
To achieve the best possible outcome at a speech pathology appointment, it’s essential that you make close observations of your child’s stuttering and document the following:
How to support your child while they are experiencing stuttering?
If your child starts stuttering, in addition to making observations and seeking advice from a speech therapist, it’s essential to display sensitivity towards your child. Try not to make a big deal of their stuttering, let them know that you are there to help them through their frustration and that you will wait for them to say what they need to.
It’s so important that you’re not in a hurry to communicate with them. Try to slow down your questions and give them the amount of time they need to express themselves properly. Patience when it comes to stuttering is key.
Has your child started stuttering all of a sudden? Did it go away on its own or did you seek therapy?
By Vincent Borg
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Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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