Juvenile Stuttering - Understanding Risk Factors And How You Can Help

Health & Medical Articles

Speech pathologists are individuals who diagnose, assess, and treat different types of speech conditions and difficulties. If you have a child who has trouble communicating in any way, then it is wise to seek out assistance from one of these professionals. One of the most common child speech issues involves stuttering.

Over three million Americans have a specific stuttering problem, and most of these individuals are children. Developmental stuttering is the name of the speech condition that usually appears as children are beginning to learn or develop speech patterns. Sometimes, stuttering can go away on its own. However, there are some risk factors that can be used to determine if the issue is likely to continue beyond childhood. Keep reading to understand these factors and what you can do to help your child overcome their stuttering problem early on.

Risk Factors

Family history

There are many risk factors that are used by a speech pathologist to figure out if a stuttering issue is likely to continue. Family history is one of these things. Stuttering issues are often hereditary and most common if your child has a sister, parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle who also had the issue. The length of time the family member dealt with the problem may also be a factor. However, prolonged stuttering problems may have also been caused by a previous lack of understanding and treatment. For example, almost all stuttering issues were previously grouped into the psychogenic category. This type of stuttering occurs in individuals who have suffered some sort of emotional problem or mental illness. This means that children were often treated for mental problems instead of speech ones. Physicians now know that psychogenic stuttering is quite rare, and treatments are geared towards developing good speech patterns instead.

Age of Onset

In most cases, stuttering starts as children are still trying to transform their ideas and thoughts into both words and sentences. The majority of speech and language skills develop during the first three years of life. However, during this period of development, your child may run into some road blocks where the brain is producing thoughts and ideas faster than they can communicate verbally. This can lead to stuttering, and the condition is likely to continue until verbal communication catches up with brain function. In this case, the stuttering is likely to go away within a relatively short period of time.

However, if you notice your child starting to stutter somewhere after the three year age mark, then the stuttering problem may be more complicated than a simple development delay issue. This is true as well the longer the stuttering issue lasts.

Helping Your Child

It is best to seek out speech therapy with a pathologist or speech therapist once stuttering is noticed. This will help your child with the proper formation of words and sounds through verbal exploration and reading. In many cases, the therapist will concentrate on words with consonants like w, p, s, t, and k that are typically difficult for stuttering children to say. Also, the professional will focus on words that are specifically difficult for the child, like their name. In some cases, the speech professional may suggest a low dose of anxiety medication to assist with stuttering problems. This is often dependent on the age of the child and the severity of the situation.

Along with taking your child to regular speech appointments, also make sure to continually speak with your child at home. Speak in a calm and slow manner so your child will follow your lead. This can help to reduce stuttering. Also, pause after speaking to allow your child some time to fully form thoughts and to speak clearly. Wait several seconds after your child is done talking as well, to make sure they have fully finished with their speaking turn. If you have further questions about how to help your child learn to speak clearly at home, talk to a speech therapist for more about this topic.


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