It’s International Stuttering Awareness Day on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects more than 3 million Americans. It’s one of several conditions that can affect a person’s ability to speak clearly.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a communication disorder that interferes with fluent (flowing and easy) speech. A person who stutters may repeat the first part of a word as in “wa-wa-wa-water,” or hold a single sound for a long time as in “caaaaaaake.” Some people who stutter have trouble getting sounds out altogether. Stuttering is complex, and it can affect speech in many different ways.
What causes stuttering?
The causes of stuttering are not always easily identified. There is strong evidence that stuttering has a genetic component. For instance, if there is a family history of stuttering, the risk for developing a stutter is higher. Additional causes can include congenital brain damage or some genetic syndromes. Other research shows that a lack of coordination between the sensory system and the motor systems that help to control fluent speech may contribute to a stutter.
We do know that the onset of stuttering usually happens during a period of fast and intense speech and language development. This usually begins between 2-5 years of age, but could be as early as 18 months. During this time, children are starting to use more complex speech and language, such as putting longer sentences together and learning new vocabulary. For most children, this type of stuttering will disappear, but for some their stuttering continues or worsens.
How is stuttering treated?
If a family is concerned about their child’s stuttering, Children’s Minnesota can help. It’s recommended that the family receives a consultation with a speech-language pathologist (SLP). These are experts in evaluating and treating children who have difficulties with communication, feeding and swallowing. During the consultation, the SLPs will evaluate the child’s speech and language skills. The therapist and parents will then discuss the results and develop a treatment plan that will help the child to speak with more fluency.
One-of-a-kind kids deserve exceptional care
Children’s Minnesota is dedicated to giving kids a voice. With our team of SLPs, we want all kids to overcome their challenges with speech. Sometimes, our rehabilitation and therapy methods look like play, but we are hard at work. At Children’s Minnesota, we will oftentimes encourage you to watch and even take part in treatment sessions. You will quickly find out that much of what we do during these sessions may look like fun and games – and it is. This is because we know that children are more motivated and interested in the session when they’re having fun. Because of this, our therapy is as playful as possible.
But, playing is not all we do. During treatment sessions, there is serious work happening. From stacking blocks to playing with puppets, all these activities are specifically chosen to help your child learn new skills or continue to build on existing skills. Some of these exercises and methods can be used and practiced outside of sessions.
At Children’s Minnesota, we’re experts on kids’ therapy — but you’re the expert on your own child. By joining forces, we can help your child grow up more confident and independent. That’s the power of teamwork.