Toddler Stuttering? When To Be Concerned
It might be alarming to notice your toddler struggling to express themselves. This is especially true if your child previously had no problems speaking but has recently started stuttering for unclear reasons. Fortunately, over 75% of children who exhibit signs of this stuttering or disfluency will eventually recover. That does not, however, diminish the amount of anxiety that parents feel when the toddler stuttering begins.
Watch the video to learn about toddler stuttering and what parents can do at home to help.
Many toddlers and young preschoolers who are starting to speak may have speech disfluency at some point throughout their speech and language development. Most of these are dismissed as part of a normal growth. In those circumstances, the child’s speech does not seem forced or labored and they are not struggling to get their words out. There is usually no awareness on the child’s side, and the flow of conversation does not appear to be significantly hampered.
Around 5% of all children are expected to be disfluent at some point throughout their development, often between the ages of 2 and 5. It’s also common for toddlers to alternate between times of fluency and periods of disfluency.
Oftentimes, a child becomes more disfluent when they are having a language explosion and what they want to say (what is in their head) cannot keep up with how fast they can say it. This can result in stuttering moments.
What is Considered Typical Developmental Stuttering?
Most disfluencies in toddlers and preschoolers fade away on their own within a short amount of time. In other circumstances, disfluencies remain and stuttering symptoms grow more noticeable. Getting expert therapy as soon as possible improves your chances of minimizing stuttering.
Here are traits of typical stuttering a child may outgrow:
- Repeating whole words (not just sounds in words)
- Using filler words (um, er)
- No tension
- No avoiding of words or speaking situations
Here are some red flags for toddler stuttering that may persist:
- Family history is the biggest factor in whether a child is likely to stutter.
- Gender. Boys are twice as likely as girls to stutter, while boys in elementary school are 3 to 4 times more likely than girls to stutter.
- Age of onset. Toddlers who begin stuttering at the age of 4 are more likely to develop a chronic stutter than those who begin at a younger age.
- Co-existing speech and/or language disorders increase the chances a child may stutter.
Watch the video to hear Michelle Moyal, Speech Language Pathologist, talk about toddler stuttering and what you can do at home to help.
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