Communication Matters

Stuttering Therapy for Children

Lauren Masuga, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on May 10, 2018

Teacher and girlStuttering can become a lifelong part of talking for some people. However, it does not have to interfere with your child's ability to make friends, participate in the classroom, make good grades, form lasting relationships or achieve career goals.

Deciding whether to take your child to speech therapy can be a difficult decision, however, many parents are concerned that taking a child to therapy will increase his or her awareness of the stuttering and thus have a negative effect or are unsure about the best time to start their child in therapy, especially when they get conflicting advice about whether to "wait and see" versus take action. Adding to the confusion, research suggests that as many as 70 percent of all children who start stuttering will outgrow it on their own with no speech therapy. But research also indicates that if a child has been stuttering longer than a year, the likelihood that he or she will outgrow it without any speech therapy is reduced.

Unfortunately, there are no firm guidelines about the best time to start therapy, although most speech-language pathologists will recommend starting therapy within six to 12 months after you have first noticed the stuttering. One thing we do know, though, is that all children can benefit from therapy, although the outcomes are different for different children.

As a result of speech therapy, some children are able to eliminate stuttering completely. Others learn strategies that help them stutter less, while yet other children learn to talk in a way that is easier and less tense, even though some stuttering is still noticeable. Most importantly, all children can learn to become more confident in their speaking skills, no matter how much stuttering they may still have.

Goals of stuttering therapy:

There are usually two main goals in stuttering therapy for this age group:
1. Making talking easier
2. Developing healthier attitudes and feelings about talking

Making talking easier is achieved by learning speech tools.These tools help the speaker to produce speech in a different way, such as reducing the amount of tension in the speech system, beginning a sentence with more air or stuttering in an easier way.

Developing healthier attitudes and feelings about talking is achieved by learning to respond to speaking situations with less anxiety, use positive self-talk, become more confident in their ability to speak and use speech tools and use problem-solving skills for difficult speaking situations.

Not everyone needs to change how they feel about talking. Many kids and teens are confident and willingly talk to others. For some, however, talking can produce feelings of anxiety or fear, even guilt and shame. Overcoming these negative attitudes and feelings can be just as important as learning to talk more easily.

Talking more fluently is only one part of being a good communicator. Learning to take turns, not interrupt, and using eye contact when speaking are also important communication skills. Again, it's important to know that if stuttering happens, it's OK, and you don't have to be ashamed.

Tags: Speech, Communication, Support, Stuttering