Stuttering: What It Is, When to Seek Help and How Our Fort Myers Speech Therapists Treat It
Many children, when they are young and learning to talk, develop a stutter. Their brains are processing thousands of new sounds and words in the first years of their lives (aptly named a “language explosion”). As our Fort Myers speech therapists can explain, their vocabulary “explodes,” but the brain’s neural pathways are still catching up, and may have difficulty coordinating. This can be a factor in stuttering.
Sometimes, kids struggle with repetition of syllables, sounds and words. Others’ sounds are prolonged and some have so-called “blocks,” or speech interruptions. Some speculate there is a genetic component involved. No matter the specific type of stutter or the underlying reason, our Fort Myers speech therapists can help treat it.
Different Types of Stuttering
Stuttering is what’s known as a “fluency disorder.” As noted by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), someone who has a fluency disorder knows what they want to say, but has difficulty speaking in a way that is flowing, or fluid. They might say parts of the word or a whole word repeatedly. There might be an awkward pause between words. That’s stuttering, which is only one type of fluency disorder. There’s also “cluttering,” where one speaks rapidly and their words run together. Or they might say “um” with great frequency.
Most people have some degree of disfluencies when they talk, but if you have a fluency disorder, you will have many and speaking/being understood is an everyday challenge.
Stuttering can be either neurogenic or developmental. Someone with neurogenic stuttering begins stuttering after some type of head trauma or stroke. Developmental stuttering (the most common kind and what we’re mostly dealing with in small children) occurs during that so-called “language explosion.”
How is Stuttering Diagnosed?
Our Fort Myers speech therapists can diagnose stuttering, as we’re trained to assess and treat kids with language, voice and speech disorders. We’ll look at when the stuttering first started, observe their stuttering behaviors (do they make an awkward face or have rapid eye movements when they stutter?) and determine their overall language and speech abilities. We also want to get a sense of what the overall impact of stuttering on their lives is (or what it could eventually be).
Long-term, stuttering can impact a child’s academics, social relationships and self-confidence. That’s why we really encourage parents to listen closely to how their child speaks and to seek treatment of stuttering – or any fluency disorder – as soon as possible. It’s true that in 3 times out of 4, a pediatric stutter will go away on its own. However, parents likely aren’t going to know whether their child is the 1 out of 4 who needs additional help unless their child undergoes a thorough evaluation.
How Do Fort Myers Speech Therapists Treat Stuttering?
The exact treatment plan for stuttering is going to depend a lot on the individual. The two main goals are to promote a positive outlook on speaking and to minimize or eliminate the frequency and severity of the stutter.
For small children, many speech-language pathologists lean toward use of the Lidcombe Program, which is a type of behavioral treatment for children under 6 who stutter. It’s a direct form of treatment that requires a lot of parent involvement and initiative. Essentially, our Fort Myers speech therapists teach you how to track and address your child’s stuttering in everyday life. It involves a lot of positive reinforcement and praise for when the child does speak smoothly.
For older kids, we use a variety of strategies to teach them how to reduce tension, talk at an appropriate speed and ease into the sound of each word.
If you are unsure if your child needs treatment for stuttering or have questions about getting started, our dedicated, caring team at FOCUS Therapy can help.
FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy and online speech therapy for kids in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
What is Stuttering? National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
More Blog Entries:
Is My Child a Late Bloomer Or Is It A Language Problem? Speech Therapists Weigh In. March 2, 2020, FOCUS Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog