Most people think that stuttering is a kind of speech defect. In grown people and in older children, without a doubt it is exactly that. Stuttering in toddlers though, simply a regular part of learning speech. This is how very young children learn speech – learn a new language. In most cases, stuttering in toddlers usually never lasts beyond a year once it starts. But of course, there are those who never manage to let it go.
When parents see stuttering in toddlers, their first instinct is to worry. And it’s perfectly understandable why they would. Should they do something about it? Is there some kind of sign that they should notice that tells them that there is something abnormal about the stuttering they are seeing?
To stutter and stammer is a kind of speech interruption that can occur in many ways. In some children, there are certain syllables that they have a hard time getting over. They will say p-p-please or p-p-play. Sometimes, it can also occur as an overly stressed or prolonged first letter – like a child might say the name Susan, Sssusan. And in yet another kind of stuttering, there can be complete stoppage of speech and repeated humming and hawing. All of these can happen to any child. About 20% of all children experience something like this.
You’ll be able to recognize a few signs of actual trouble by paying close attention to stuttering in toddlers. Children who stutter in the normal way don’t usually tend to be anxious-looking. Children who stutter in an abnormal way though, become really tense. When they get to the part that they stutter on, their facial muscles become rigid. You’ll see that the child seems to really try hard to get past that syllable. His voice rises in pitch, too.
Usually, children who stutter usually have another relative in the family also does this. Or the child has a speech problem of another kind. At one time, experts believed that stuttering came about for reasons of physical or emotional pain of some kind – an event that caused terrible stress. These days though, doctors no longer believe this.
If you see something in the way your child stutters that gives you cause for worry, you need to ask your doctor to refer you to a speech language pathologist – a specialist who specializes in these kind of things. There’s no actual cure or drug for this. If the doctor finds that your child really needs help, he will design a custom program to train your child. Most of the time, this works.