Written by Dr. Heather Grossman
Parents who are concerned that their child may be stuttering often first seek guidance from their pediatrician. Many pediatricians tell parents to expect their child to outgrow the problem and to give the issue no concern. While we do know that approximately 75% of children who show early signs of stuttering will show spontaneous recovery, certain risk factors increase the likelihood that the child’s speech requires professional intervention. Such factors include a positive family history of persistent stuttering, the child having a sensitive temperament, and other weaknesses in the child’s articulation or language skills.
Parents should also be aware of certain behaviors that suggest the child is reacting negatively to their speech such as the child starting to act shy, looking away while speaking, speaking using only a few words or avoiding certain words or situations altogether. They may begin to exhibit secondary characteristics such as pressing their lips together or having excessive tension in the voice that indicate the child is trying to force out their words. Teachers may notice that the child’s verbal participation in class is reduced. Any child showing such signs of awareness, avoidance, or tension should receive a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist who specializes in pediatric stuttering.
In addition to determining if there is a need for professional intervention for the child’s speech, during the evaluation parents are provided vital information regarding pediatric stuttering and what actions they can take immediately to help their child. Parents are rarely concerned for no reason, so if you are significantly worried about your child’s speech, it is best to seek professional guidance.