Stuttering can be a regular, temporary stage of growth and development for many children. Occasionally, however, some children never “grow out” of their stuttering and may require speech therapy. As a parent to a child who stutters, you may ask yourself when the appropriate time to seek help is?
A general rule of thumb is that a child who began to stutter before they turn three years old is likely to outgrow their stuttering habit. If a child begins to stutter after they have turned 3 to 3 and a half years of age, it would be recommended to have your child evaluated. Likewise, if your child has been consistently stuttering for more than 12 months, they are less likely to grow out of it on their own.
Many factors contribute to stuttering. There are “more typical” and “less conventional” forms of stuttering. A child experiencing a more typical and likely form of stuttering, such as whole phrase repetition, also has a higher likelihood of developing normal speech patterns later. A less common form of stuttering, such as repetition of sounds or syllables, likely requires treatment and may be due to another kind of speech need. Ultimately, a speech therapist would be able to confirm whether your child’s language skills and history warrant therapy.
Stutter can be diminished and eliminated with proper treatment and exercise. However, it is important to build confidence in communicators who stutter. Stuttering can be a very emotional and stressful symptom of speech. If an environment or situation becomes too stressful, stuttering may worsen or be more prominent. Speakers who stutter often are quite and shy or embarrassed to talk, which increases their stuttering. If you believe your child might qualify for professional help in altering their speech and stuttering habits, it would be in your best interest to contact a speech therapist.