What is Stuttering?

A child who stutters has a disruption to their flow of speech. The disruption may be heard as a repetition of a sound (usually the first sound), repetition of a word/phrase, prolongation of a sound, or there may be 'blocking' (no sound is emitted). The child may also have a physical component to the stutter (secondary characteristic) but this is not always present, e.g., a facial grimace may be present as they stutter.
Stuttering is also called dysfluency.

What is normal dysfluency?

In typical development, a child may develop a low level of dysfluency (stuttering). Not all children have this phase in their development. If dysfluency is present, this needs to be monitored to ensure it does not develop into a long-lasting stuttering behaviour. If dysfluency persists for longer than 3 months, an assessment with a Speech Pathologist is recommended, particularly if there is a family history of stuttering.

What is the cause of stuttering?

There is no known cause of stuttering. It is not related to low intelligence or anxiety or parental style.
There appears to be a strong genetic link, therefore if there is a family history of stuttering, the stuttering in a child is of a greater concern.

What is the treatment for stuttering?

Stuttering treatments are available for all ages, however the most effective therapy occurs when the stuttering is treated in the preschool years. The most widely recommended treatment for preschool children is the Lidcombe program. It uses a behavioural approach, where parents are trained to become the therapist at home, helping their child use more fluent speech.