Stammering in children

  • By Team TDO

Stammering is a common problem in children as they learn to speak. This is due to inadequate development of their speech and language skills. Most children outgrow their developmental stammering. However, in some cases stammering persists and becomes a chronic condition. Stammering has an impact on the self-esteem of a child.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of stammering may include: Prolongation of a word, difficulty in starting a sentence or word, brief silence for certain syllables, repetition of a word, pause within a word, anxiety while talking, etc. Stammering is often associated with tremors of lips or jaw, rapidly blinking eyes, etc. Stammering is worsened when a child is stressed or excited.

Causative factors

Following are the possible causes of persistent stammering:

  1. Hereditary- Stammering may have a hereditary basis. It may be associated with inherited abnormalities in the speech center of the brain.
  2. Diseases- Certain diseases of nervous system like stroke or trauma to the brain may result in stammering.

Risk factors and complications

  1. Delayed development - Children with developmental delay may suffer from stammering.
  2. Stress - Stammering is a cause of stress to the child and his or her parents.
  3. Self-esteem - Self-esteem of the child is also affected by stammering.
  4. Others - Other problems associated with stammering are social withdrawal, lack of communication with others, etc.

    Test and diagnosis

    Diagnosis is made by observing the child while speaking in different situations to different people. Diagnosis is usually made by the parents. Opinion of a doctor or speech therapist should be sought for further evaluation and treatment.

Stammering is common for growing children between 2 and 5 years as a part of their speech development and is often self-limiting. However, if the stammering persists, he or she may need treatment. Children suffering from stammering are benefited from various treatment modalities like speech therapy, psychological counseling or use of electronic devices. The child is evaluated thoroughly by a doctor or speech therapist and subsequently a suitable treatment approach is adopted for him or her.

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy – This is a type of psychological counseling. It helps to remove stress and anxiety related to stammering and changes the thinking process of the child.
  2. Controlled fluency – It is a form of speech therapy. It teaches the child to slow down the speech, helps him or her to note the point of stammering and overcome it.

Electronic devices – Various electronic devices are available to assist speech therapy.

Role of medication
Few medications have been evaluated for their role in stammering. However, they have not been proven beneficial yet.

Emotional support
Parental support is the key for any child to coup with problem of stammering. Treatment, as advised by the doctor or the speech therapist should be continued at home. With proper parental support and treatment, the child will be able to communicate effectively with other children and continue his or her normal daily activities.