The movie “The King’s Speech”, about the trials of King George VI overcoming his stuttering,Â is winning multiple awards, includingÂ Golden Globes, BAFTA’s (British version of Academy Awards), and Academy Award nominations.Â Â Â For organizations who provide support and resources about stuttering,Â such asÂ the Stuttering Foundation, it has provided a valuable opportunity to cast a light on stuttering and those who stutter.
Stuttering isÂ speech marked byÂ repetition ofÂ sounds or words,Â blocks in speaking, and difficulty in gettingÂ words out. Five percent of toddlersÂ will stutter, usuallyÂ beginning at about 30 months age,Â but 80% of these kidsÂ outgrow the problem.
Speech is a complex developmental issue.Â Â Â Kids must be able to receive,Â process and understand information,Â respond withÂ a thought or idea, andÂ turnÂ it into a sentence.Â Then, only finally,Â theyÂ make the appropriate physicalÂ noises at the right timeÂ to convey their thoughts. As kids develop, some of these abilities may get ahead of others, leading to intermittent problems with speech fluency.Â Â Â You mayÂ especiallyÂ notice this withÂ newÂ sounds, words,Â or thoughts, or when kids are excited.Â Many kids will have these fits and starts in their speech, known as dysfluencies,Â and almost allÂ kids will outgrow it.Â
Stuttering starts out as dysfluent speech, with repetition of syllables and sounds, and then progresses to the repetition of words and phrases.Â Even this may be a normal developmental stage of a child’s speech, however, and usually the child is not aware of any problems.Â Â Â How do you know when to seek attention for your child’s stuttering problem?Â Below is a list for guidance.
- Your child is aware he or she has a problem.
- Your child stutters with more than 10% of his or her speech.
- Your child has obvious difficulty with, or shows tension while speaking.
- Your child’s speech makes it difficult for him or her to communicate their thoughts.
- Your child avoids certain words or phrases.
- You, the parent, are concerned about your child’s speech development.
The Stuttering Foundation has a list of risk factorsÂ below that may indicate your child’sÂ dysfluent speechÂ will develop into chronic stuttering.Â If you have any questions about your child’s communications skills or other developmental issues, please see your pediatrician or primary care physician.
- Family history
- Age at onset:Â Children who begin stuttering before age 3 1/2 are more likely to outgrow stuttering.
- Time since onset: Between 75% and 80% of all children who begin stuttering will stop within 12 to 24 months without speech therapy.
- Gender: Girls are more likely than boys to outgrow stuttering, although most boys will also outgrow stuttering.Â
Other speech and language factors: A child who speaks clearlyÂ would be more likely to outgrow stuttering than a child whose speech errors make him difficult to understand.
The Stuttering Foundation addresses someÂ Myths about Stuttering.
- There is no link between stuttering and intelligence.
- Nervousness does not cause stuttering.
- Stuttering is not contagious.
- It doesn’t help to tell a person to “take a deep breath before talking”, or to “think about what you say first.”
- Stress can aggravate stuttering but is not the sole cause.