What is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects the flow of speech. Also known as stammering or disfluent speech, it presents as speech that is disrupted by the repetition of words or syllables, the prolongation of sounds or syllables, and interruptions known as blocks. Generally, a person will know what they want to say, but will get stuck and be unable to say it. Stuttering can make communication very difficult, especially for children. In more extreme cases, it can negatively impact relationships, social interactions, and even job performance. Symptoms vary from one person to the next, and can even vary for an individual over the course of a day.
Stuttering affects roughly 3 million people in the United States alone. While it occurs in both children and adults, it is much more commonly found in children from ages 2 to 6 who are still learning how to speak. While there is no cure for stuttering, there are interventions to help treat it. Roughly 75% of children will recover from stuttering, while the other 75% may struggle with it for the rest of their lives.
What is the Cause of Stuttering?
The exact causes of stuttering are not entirely clear. With the knowledge available, however, stuttering is often broken down into two basic types: developmental stuttering, and neurogenic stuttering.
Developmental stuttering is the most common form. It generally occurs in young children when they are still learning how to speak. Research shows that this type of stuttering may be genetically inherited.
Neurogenic stuttering is a less common form of stuttering, and is a result of different areas of the brain having difficulty coordinating speech. This type occurs as a result of trauma to the brain, usually after a stroke or other traumatic brain injury. Both types of stuttering can be treated with speech therapy.
Stuttering must be diagnosed by a speech language pathologist. They will perform a thorough evaluation of the patient and will look at many different factors, including the child’s history, their family history, and how long the child has been stuttering. These factors will often determine whether a child will be able to overcome their stuttering or if it may be a long term issue.
Stuttering Treatment: Speech Therapy for Children
There are a few options when it comes to treatment for stuttering. While there is no cure, having many different approaches generally leads to positive outcomes for children. Treatments may differ based on the patient’s age, history, and other factors.
In general, the best treatment is for a child to go to speech therapy with a speech language pathologist. Treatment sessions focus on speaking more slowly, improving breathing patterns, and general exercises to work on enunciation and speech production.
In addition to speech therapy, another option for treatment is prescription drugs, though this is not always the best course of action. No drug has been approved by the FDA to treat stuttering, and may have negative side effects. If you’d like to learn more about this option, you should consult with your pediatrician.
Speech Therapy with Mind & Motion
If your child is struggling with stuttering, or any other speech issue, the first step of evaluating and diagnosing it is a crucial first step. The sooner you can start treatment, the better. Our team of expert speech language pathologists will work together with you to ensure your child has a tailored treatment plan that meets their needs. Contact us today to learn more about how speech therapy can help your child.
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