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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Stuttering: When To Seek Help

Published July 1, 2014 8:36 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I shared a post highlighting information about what "normal" speech looks like, as well as providing a comprehensive definition of the term "stuttering." This week I would like to further explore this complex speech disorder and what it looks like in young children. Research shows that for most children who present with some mild dysfluencies under the age of 5, the dysfluencies will often resolve themselves during those early years. These normal dysfluencies are mainly a temporary and typical phase in speech and language development.

According to the Kids Health website:

"Usually, stuttering drops to very low levels when kids enter elementary school and start sharpening their communication skills...If your child is 5 years old and still stuttering, talk to your doctor and, possibly, a speech-language therapist. You also may want to consult a speech therapist if:

  • repetitions of whole words and phrases become excessive and consistent
  • sound and syllable repetitions start happening more often
  • there is an increase in the prolongations of words
  • speech starts to be especially difficult or strained
  • you notice increased facial tension or tightness in the speech muscles
  • you notice vocal tension resulting in rising pitch or loudness
  • your child tries to avoid situations that require talking
  • your child changes a word for fear of stuttering
  • your child has facial or body movements along with the stuttering
  • you have other concerns about your child's speech

Most schools will offer testing and appropriate therapy if you have been concerned about the stuttering for 6 months or more.

According to the Stuttering Foundation, founded in 1947, "research suggests that as many as 70% 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 one 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 6-12 months after you have first noticed the stuttering."

Join me next week for possible treatment strategies and what YOU can do as a parent if your child meets the guidelines listed above in today's post.

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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