Stuttering in children
Many young kids go through a stage between the ages of 2 and 5 when they stutter, repeating certain syllables, words or phrases or prolonging them. In most cases, stuttering goes away on its own by age 5; in others, it lasts longer.
There is often (but not always) a genetic predisposition towards stuttering. About 60% of those who stutter have a close family member who stutters.
The first signs of stuttering tend to appear when a child is about 18-24 months old as there is a burst in vocabulary and kids are starting to put words together to form sentences. To parents, the stuttering may be upsetting and frustrating, but it is natural for kids to do some stuttering at this stage. It's important to be as patient with your child as possible.
A child may stutter for a few weeks or several months, and the stuttering may be occasional. Most kids who begin stuttering before the age of 5 stop without any need for interventions such as speech or language therapy.
However, if your child's stuttering is frequent, continues to get worse, and is accompanied by body or facial movements, an evaluation by a speech-language therapist around (instead of before) age 3 is a good idea.
If your child is 5 years old and still stuttering, talk to your doctor and, possibly, a speech-language therapist. You may particularly want to consult a speech therapist if:
• repetitions of whole words and phrases become excessive and consistent
• speech starts to be especially difficult or strained
• you notice increased facial tension or tightness in the speech muscles
• your child has facial or body movements along with the stuttering
or if you have other concerns about your child's speech.
Parents should make sure that they provide a calm atmosphere in the house and do not put pressure on the child with regards to his/her stuttering. Avoid offering corrections and giving criticisms.