Please note: I am able to support both adults and children or young people who stammer. For young children, I work closely with parents. For young people and adults, we can work with increasing fluency; we can also work with 'stammer more easily' and 'stammer more proudly' approaches.
Stammering, also known as stuttering, or dysfluency, is a common speech difference. It often starts when language is growing at a fast rate. You may notice that speech includes:
repetitions of a sound or word, e.g. "I - I - I - want it", "the ca- ca- ca- cat."
stretched-out sounds, e.g. "the ffffffish" the "aaaaaple."
'blocked' sounds,. so that no sound comes out, e.g. "the b..........ag."
tension in the face or body associated with a fear of stammering.
Some children start to stammer and it resolves within a few months. Other children continue to stammer. It is better not to ignore a stammer, because we don't want a child to feel bad about their speech and avoid speaking. Sometimes people who stammer avoid certain sounds or words, and this can interfere with their general communication ease.
Parents do not cause a stammer.
Stammering is not the result of trauma.
We do not know why some people stammer, but we do know that it is caused by differences in the wiring of the developing brain. We also know that a developing brain is highly adaptable, and than it can be 'rewired'.
It is better not to ignore a stammer.
Children are often aware that they are stammering, and can be confused or distressed if no one talks about it.
How to support a child who is stammering:
It is fine to acknowledge the stammer. You could say "that was a hard word to say, wasn't it?" We do not want the child to think that stammering is taboo or shameful.
You may sense that the stammer is worse at busy times. Rather than telling the child to slow down or take a deep breath (which adds more complexity to their talking), slow your own pace down. A child will automatically mirror your slower pace without even thinking about it.
Provide natural pauses in the conversation so that your child has time to formulate their ideas. Children who stammer often have a lot to say, but need space to think. Try not to interrupt or finish their sentences.
Try not to ask complicated questions or lots of questions all at once. Give your child time to think about their response.
Setting aside some quiet time to play and talk together can be really helpful. Try to remove distractions and give your child your full attention.
Stammering can be worse when a child is tired. Try to make sure that your child has time to rest.
A Speech and Language Therapist can help a child, young person or an adult so that they do not lose confidence in their talking. There are many ways to help.