What are these difficulties characterised by?
Stammering is a neurological condition that impacts the fluency of speech. Stammering is a registered disability. Someone who stammers may present with the following;
Repetitions – when sounds or parts of words and whole words are repeated e.g b-b-b-b-ball, and and and.
Prolongations – when sounds are stretched e.g. mmmmmmummy.
Blocking – when words appear to get stuck.
There may be signs of increased tension and physical movements that occur alongside the behaviours listed above.
There is also the ‘covert/invisible’ aspect of stammering that the individual deals with that other people cannot see e.g. situational avoidance, word avoidance, sound avoidance, word switching. Stammering is variable, everyone stammers differently and this can change from moment to moment. People will have periods of increased stammering and times when speech is more fluent.
There are 2 main types of stammering:
- The most common type of stammering begins in early childhood, onset is typically between 2 – 5 years old when speech and language skills are developing quickly.
- About 8% of children will stammer at some point, but most will go on to talk fluently. For up to 3% of adults it will be a lifelong condition.
Acquired or late-onset stammering
- It happens in older children and adults as a result of a head injury, stroke or progressive neurological condition. It can also be caused by certain drugs, medicines, or psychological or emotional trauma.
How does this impact the child?
- Stammering can be incredibly frustrating for the individual who stammers. Stammering can have an impact on the child’s willingness to speak due which can then impact all aspects of a child’s life including socially and academically.
- There is no link between stammering and intellectual capacity. Stammering is not caused by anxiety.
- The reactions of other people can have a huge impact on the person who stammers. Historically, there has been a stigma against stammering. People who stammer may feel shame, embarrassment, anger, guilt amongst many other emotions. Stammering can have a significant psychological impact.
- People who stammer have reported the frustration of how other people react.
- Being interrupted “slow down… think about what you want to say”
- People finishing your sentences for you because they can’t wait for you to finish.
- Other people assume that the individual does not know what they want to say.
- For some people the experience of stammering can be very physical e.g. facial grimacing and groping as well as head, arm and legs movements.
Individuals will often go to great lengths to hide the fact that they stammer including swapping words, avoiding situations that involve speaking and also remaining silent. It can be extremely exhausting for individuals who stammer. Things that other people take for granted can be really difficult for some people who stammer e.g. introducing yourself, answering questions, talking on the phone, using voice activated technology e.g. “Alexa, play my favourite song”
How can ChatterBug support your child?
It is important to be open and honest about the fact that there is no specific “cure” for stammering and there does not need to be one. At ChatterBug we strive to change perceptions, stammering is not a flaw it is absolutely okay to stammer.
ChatterBug’s knowledgeable SLT’s provide a friendly and supportive environment for children and the team of adults around the child to learn about stammering and how to deal with their specific difficulties with a flexible approach to intervention.
We embark on a journey with our families to challenge negative mindsets and to develop a more positive outlook and empower clients to be confident communicators.
As with all ChatterBug approaches, interventions for stammering are tailored to the needs of the individual. For some clients direct therapy will be appropriate to work on fluency.
For other clients more indirect work will be appropriate.
Some of the interventions that we offer include but are not limited to;
- Parent Child Interaction (PCI)
- This therapy approach supports adults to provide a communication friendly environment for their children to progress.
- Family Communication Skills Therapy
- This approach supports whole families with interaction styles to support the child who stammers
- Identification, Desensitisation and Acceptance therapy.
- This approach is usually best for older clients with a persistent stammer to work on their understanding and perception of their communication skills.
- Direct Fluency Work
- Works on fluency strategies to help with smooth speech.
- Demands and Capacities
- In this intervention approach our therapists look at the environment around the child and the capabilities within the child to look at how the environment can be more supportive and communication friendly.
It is highly like that a combination of intervention ideas will be used to suit the needs of the individual.