Very early on in my 6 year old daughter’s speech and language development, I noticed that whenever she got frustrated or excited, she would stutter. When I pointed this out to my pediatrician when my daughter was about 3 years old, I was told that the doctor would monitor the situation. At 4 years of age, my daughter began having speech therapy one hour a day at her preschool, but when she was enrolled in public school for kindergarten, there were no speech therapy resources or services offered to us through her elementary school.
At the beginning of my daughter’s 1st grade year, I spoke to the principal of the school about my daughter’s stuttering. While going to speech therapy in preschool, I noticed that there was a vast improvement in her speech—but after not having it for over a year, her speech was suffering. It took almost 5 months for my daughter’s school to begin the process for recommendation into a speech therapy program within the school. And although I am happy that my daughter’s speech is finally getting the attention it needs, it took way too long to get the process started.
My daughter suffers from what a lot of children suffer from. Stuttering is nothing to be ashamed of, and it can sometimes be heredity that causes stuttering. There are days that my daughter speaks fluently without any stuttering or lapses in speech, and there are other times that it takes awhile for her to get her thoughts together to produce a complete sentence.
From what I have learned, stuttering has no bearing on intelligence or comprehension. It simply deals with the speech pattern and the way the brain processes information to form words and sentences.
You may notice your child stutters all of the time, or you may notice triggers—when they get excited or upset, they may stutter more than when at ease.
I also notice that with my daughter, the more you point it out to her, the more she stutters. It makes her pay more attention to her speech, and instead of not stuttering, she does it more.
To those parents dealing with children who stutter, I say the first thing to do is to not lose patience. Let your child finish their thoughts even when they were stuttering, and do not rush them to speak. Give them time to say their thoughts without filling in the gaps for them.
Some experts believe that stuttering stops for most children at the age of 5. If it continues on afterward, it could be a problem. Don’t be afraid to get a second or even a third opinion.
Continue to foster their self esteem. Kids and some adults can be cruel and say negative things to your child about their speech. This could cause your child to be withdrawn and more subconscious about their speech.
Get your child’s teacher and school involved and research if there are any programs in place in the school to help your child’s speech. Most school districts have speech therapists and pathologists on staff that work with children to improve their speech. This does involve a lot of red tape, so don’t give up and continue to stay on the administration until they help your child with their needs.
Love your child, hug them, read with them, and help build their self esteem while at home. Doing so can make great strides with their speech and progress.
Dealing with a child who stutters isn’t for the faint of heart—it takes work, patience, and dedication. But we want the best for our children, so work with them to help improve their speech.
I hope me sharing my story helps those parents who are affected by children who stutter or have abbreviated speech patterns.