Stuttering and Stammering
This is recognisable as dysfluent speech. The child/adult may be repeating whole words ‘and, and, and then I left’; or single syllables e.g. ‘c-c-c-come in’. Sometimes sounds may be blocked where the mouth is in position but no sound comes out. There may also be evidence of facial tension, body movements or disrupted breathing.
Therapy approaches are direct and indirect. I have specific training in Michael Palin parent child interaction therapy (PCI) for children under seven. Following a comprehensive assessment, therapy typically consists of two or more of the following three areas:
- Interaction strategies
- Family strategies
- Child strategies
Other therapy approaches for stuttering include Response Contingency Therapy, fluency shaping, and control of utterance length.
Why do some children stammer?
The simple answer to this question is that we do not know. Research findings indicate that there are many factors that influence both the onset and development of stammering.
Some interesting facts from current research:
Stammering has a genetic basis. However, the pattern of history in a family also seems to be important. There is an increased likelihood of ‘natural recovery’ when a child had a family history of relatives having recovered.
Boys are more likely than girls to have persistent stammering. The ratio of boys to girls who have a stammer is reported to be 1:1 when they first start stammering but by the age of 10 years it reaches 5:1.
Stammering is not more common in people with two languages
A child with a stammer can present with delayed or advanced language ability.
Studies suggest stammering is related to underlying structural differences in the brains of those who stammer.
The research is very clear that there is no evidence that the communication and interaction styles of parents of children who stammer are different from that of other parents. However, some researchers suggest that stammering may result in a change of interaction styles between parents and children.
A child’s temperament may play a role in the development of stammering. Studies have show that children who stammer are often more impulsive and less adaptable to change. They are often more shy and anxious than their peers.
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