The Importance of Early Intervention if Your Child Stutters

The Importance of Early Intervention if Your Child Stutters

Parents are often concerned that taking their child to speech therapy increases their awareness of the stuttering and has a negative impact. Other parents are eager for their child to begin speech therapy but are unsure about when is the best time to start.

While there are no firm guidelines regarding when to begin therapy, one thing we know is that starting during the early years of development offers the best opportunity for speech recovery. Many children who begin stuttering will outgrow it on their own. However, research shows that if a child has been stuttering for more than a year, they're less likely to outgrow it without help. 

With over 3 million Americans who stutter, the PediaPlex team is working to educate parents about the signs of stuttering in children and the benefits of early speech therapy for stuttering.

What causes stuttering?

We know that stuttering has a genetic component. The origins of stuttering are related to how a child's brain develops neural pathways for speech and language. Stuttering can begin during preschool when children experience rapid development known as the "language explosion." 

During this brief period, a child's vocabulary grows rapidly, and the brain's neural networks involved in speech — those that process emotion, cognition, and language — may have difficulty coordinating.

Stuttering can coexist with other issues, such as articulation and speech sound production difficulties. Our team can evaluate your child’s speech and recommend the most appropriate approach. 

The impact of stuttering

Without intervention, children who begin stuttering as young as 22 months to three years old are more likely to continue stuttering as adults. Stuttering can cause emotional distress in children.

They may react negatively to stuttering, resulting in isolation and emotional anguish. 

By the age of seven, children who stutter have a negative attitude toward communication.

Bullying in school and on the playground can lead to anxiety disorders later in life. 

Children who stutter have significant differences in overall emotion and temperament when compared to children who do not stutter. Stuttering can cause psychological, educational, occupational, and social complications. Recurring, negative communication perceptions can make it difficult to form relationships later in life.

Benefits of early speech therapy for stuttering 

Starting as early as possible offers the most favorable outcome for children who stutter. According to an analysis of existing studies, children who engage in early speech therapy for stuttering are nearly eight times more likely to recover fluent speech. 

Starting speech therapy for stuttering is a vital step in helping your child. Stuttering therapy will help your child learn to speak well and develop positive emotions and attitudes toward speaking. 

The goals of speech therapy for stuttering are to:

Our multidisciplinary team includes speech pathologists who work closely with you and your child to meet their needs. 

When to seek speech evaluation

When children learn to speak, they frequently stutter, and their speech isn’t always smooth. Sometimes they repeat words or phrases, which makes parents wonder how to differentiate between this and stuttering?

It's best to see a specialist if parents notice their child's stuttering lasts longer than six months, if the stuttering begins after the age of three, or if the stuttering runs in the family, 

It is also a good idea to bring your child in for a visit if they develop a negative attitude toward speaking. Some parents may notice avoidance reactions such as head nodding, excessive use of filler words such as "um," or abandoning a thought, or changing the words in the middle of a sentence.

Stuttering intervention is more effective than waiting, so if you are concerned about your child's speech, consult with our speech-language pathologist. To learn more and to get your child started, call to schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Southlake, Fort Worth, or Frisco, Texas.  

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