Today’s topic is about 3 factors that will determine how quickly your child will manage their stutter. The keyword here is MANAGE not CURE because we as speech therapists are not ethically supposed to ever promise any parent that we can help cure their child’s stutter or help their child overcome their stutter because stuttering is a very relapse prone condition. Which means that you can manage it and then it comes back again.
So what are the 3 factors that determine how quickly a child will manage their stutter?
1. How soon the child is able to access intervention (quality speech therapy)
How soon the child is able to access intervention i.e. quality speech therapy compared to when the onset of the stutter was in my opinion is the most important determining factor. I am currently attending to two boys at my private speech therapy clinic who stutter. Both these boys came for intervention a month in after they developed their stutter which is a best case scenario as it means that we can stop this “stuttering behaviour” or “habit”. A behavioural approach that uses the same principles of changing behaviour is used to treat stuttering. Please read more about it here on this post on how to treat stuttering in young children.
This behavioural approach to treating stuttering is the reason why the timing of intervention vis-a-vis the onset of the stutter is very critical because the assumption is that “the behaviour” of stuttering has not been allowed to develop into a habit.
Speech therapists are not ethically allowed to ever promise a parent that they can help cure their child’s stutter or help their child overcome their stutter because stuttering is a very relapse prone condition.
It is always advisable that you seek out the services of a speech therapist if you suspect and are concerned that your child is developing a stutter or stammer. And if you are not sure whether or not your child stutters, please check out this post to find out.
2. Age at which your child’s stutter is managed
I had mentioned above about two boys brought in to my private speech therapy clinic to seek intervention on managing their stutter. These boys are both 2 years of age. 2 years is best case scenario as the brain is rapidly developing and so whatever they are taught is likely to stick and whatever difficulties they are having can be resolved very quickly.
But I have to add that if your child started to stutter at age 8, something I have seen in my practice in the past, and you brought them in a month or two after you noticed their stutter, it is still best case scenario as this child has not been stuttering for a very long time.
It is always advisable that you seek out the services of a speech therapist if you suspect and are concerned that your child is developing a stutter/stammer.
3. The severity of the stutter
Severity means how severe the stutter is. There is mild, moderate and severe. If the stutter is mild, the assumption is that they are more likely to manage the stutter a lot quicker than if the stutter is severe.
A mild stutter is where they are just displaying a few of the features of stuttering e.g. repeating. You can check out these features in this blog post. A moderate stutter means that your child is displaying a few more of the features of stuttering compared to a mild stutter. With severe stuttering, you can see that there is a distress when it comes to verbalising, exhibiting of superfluous movement, twitching and putting in a bit of physical effort when they are about to verbalise.
I have to put a disclaimer here and state that I have witnessed in my years of experience children whose stutter at the onset did appear to be quite severe but who experienced positive outcomes after seeking consistent intervention early (in terms of both timing and age). Severity alone is not a good determinant of how quickly your child will manage their stutter, other factors such as how soon the child is able to access quality intervention and their age play an important role.
Severity alone is not a good determinant of how quickly your child will manage their stutter, other factors such as how soon the child is able to access quality intervention and their age play an important role.
Please note that, just like with anything else, how quickly your child will manage their stutter is dependent on the work that you put in at home, whether their environment is conducive, the skill set of the speech therapist and how you make the most of your child’s speech therapy sessions.