How to support children who stammer
What is Stammering?
Stammering, also known as stuttering or dysfluency, has been around for centuries, and occurs in all parts of the world. Up to 8% of all children stammer and 1% will continue to stammer into adult life. It is more common in boys than girls.
Stammering is complex because there is no single cause of stammering and no single cure. We know that parents/carers do not cause stammering, but how you respond to stammering can make a real difference to your child's fluency.
Stammering is when your child may:
- Repeat whole words, e.g. and-and-and then I left
- Repeat parts of words, e.g. c-c-come h-h-here mu-mu-mummy
- Stretch sounds, e.g. sssssssometimes I go out
- Get stuck on the first sound of a word so no sound comes out
- Put extra effort into saying certain sounds or words, and you might notice increased muscle tension in their face or body
- Hold their breath or take a big breath before speaking so their breathing is uneven
- Lose eye contact when they get stuck on a word
- Use other body movements to get the word out, e.g. stamping a foot or nodding their head
A child who stammers may also:
- Feel worried, embarrassed, angry or even guilty about stammering
- Worry how people will react and what people will think of them
- Think that they are not good at talking
- Avoid words that they think they might stammer on
- Avoid speaking, maybe by saying they've forgotten what they were going to say
You are already doing a lot to support your child's fluency. You know your child better than anyone else so try and do a little bit more of what you are already doing that seems to help. How you respond to your child's stammering can have a positive impact on their fluency.
Click the circles below to find out about how you can support your child at home.
Speech and Language Therapy for Stammering
A Speech and Language Therapist will advise if your child needs therapy for their stammering, and will help you and your child to make sense of what is happening. You and your child will take part in a detailed assessment to enable the Speech and Language Therapist to understand the factors contributing to your child's stammer. Advice and strategies will be recommended based on current evidence and what is likely to help you and your child. You have an important role in supporting your child's fluency.
Some children and their families need some regular Speech and Language Therapy appointments, which may involve indirect therapy or direct therapy.
- Indirect Therapy. This is where the Speech and Language Therapist works with you, to support you to create a more communication friendly environment for your child. A commonly used indirect therapy is known as Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCI).
- Direct Therapy. Once you and your child have created a communication friendly environment, the Speech and Language Therapist may work directly with your child to support them to speak more fluently. This may involve teaching your child strategies for easier talking, developing their communication skills and confidence, and developing skills to manage their thoughts and feelings. You will be involved in supporting your child to use any new skills that support their fluency.
Crucial elements of fluency therapy are establishing a 'special time', being open about the stammer and confidence building.
Below you will find some leaflets, which we hope you find useful. Each leaflet has a short explanation of the topic. Please do contact the Speech and Language Therapy team if you would like further information and we will be happy to help.
Below you will find some useful website links where you will find more information and support. Just click the pictures