Fluency And Stammering in Children

Fluency problems are just one type of speech and language impairment which occur in children. most children develop language and related skills without any fluency problems. In some children, the fluency problem may be a part of normal language development or may be the beginning of a stammer which the child is in the process of developing. This article describes fluency problems and children and gives some ideas on what to do about them. It is worth pointing out that the information here is not a substitute for consultation with a speech and language therapist as and when appropriate in these cases.

Young children sometimes exhibit one of the two main kinds of fluency impairment- beginning stammering and normal nonfluency.This article  outlines the characteristics of and differences between these two types of nonfluency .

A pattern of normal nonfluency can develop in children who are between  of three and six years of age. It is not something to be alarmed about as it is a symptom of their  language developing within normal parameters.

 As this pattern of nonfluency can resemble stammering, it can generate some concern in parents.

Children who talk either early or late are often susceptible to having a pattern of normal nonfluency. The reason it occurs is because the child’s expressive language skills and grammar are less mature than his vocabulary and language comprehension. In other words,although the child knows what he wants to say and his  vocabulary is good, he is unsure how to construct the sentence.Normal nonfluency occurs in his attempt to prompt himself by repeating the first word of the sentence he is trying to construct so that he will be able to generate the rest of it.

It is best to deal with normal nonfluency in the following way:

     1. If a child is tired, he is more likely to be nonfluent so make sure your child gets enough rest and sleep.

     2. Do not comment  on his nonfluent speech. Instead,praise him when he is fluent.

A child who presents with a pattern of beginning stammering speaks fluently some of the time.One type of therapy for beginning stammering ,which is very effective, focuses on increasing the emphasis on fluency, thereby reducing the stammering episodes.

Dealing with beginning stammering effectively can be summarised as follows:

  1. Emphasise the child’s fluent speech.In this way,  periods of fluency can be increased and the focus is reduced on his stammering .

  2. Don’t try to correct the stammer by telling the child to  take a deep breath, slow down etc.

 This article gives some insight into  fluency problems in children but it is best to consult a speech and language pathologist for individual advice and management if your child presents with either of them.

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