Stuttering and Stammering: what you need to know

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Stammering, also referred to as stuttering, is one of the most common speech conditions that affect children, with an average of 1 in 12 individuals going through a stammering phase in their childhood. Around two-thirds of children with a stammer tend to grow out of it, but it is believed to affect 1 in 100 adults, with males 3 to 4 times more likely to have a stammer than females.

What is stammering?

Speech is rarely perfect, with lots of children regularly hesitating and adding in ‘uh’s’ and ‘um’s’ into sentences. However, some children struggle more than others to have a smooth speech pattern. Specific signs of stammering include:

• Repeating sounds and syllables e.g. Da-da-da-daddy
• Being unable to get words out at all
• Elongating sounds eg. Ddddadddddddddddy

As with all speech conditions, stammering is unique from person to person and affects everyone differently.

What causes stammering?

There is no direct cause for stammering, but its frequency in children when they are developing their speech and communication skills suggests that it could be a confusion in the neural pathways when new skills are being learnt. If the neural pathways are not co-ordinated, this can cause repetitions and pausing. However, as the brain continues to develop, this can fix itself.

It is also thought that genes play a part in stammering – if family members had stammering problems when they were younger, it is more likely for the child to have them too. Also, because of genes, stammering is much more common in males, with boys 3 to 4 times more likely to develop a stammer than girls.

What should I do if my child stammers?

There are many different speech and communication treatment options that you could use to help your child with their stammering. Paediatric speech therapy can be extremely valuable and is best sought as soon as the first signs of stammering appear. You want to make sure your child is supported as soon as possible, so their speech problems don’t begin to affect them socially and academically.

At Chatterbug, we offer everything from one to one individual speech and language therapy sessions to interactive group workshops and online telehealth sessions.
Click here to help your child get the support they need.

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