If you notice that your toddler is having difficulty in the first syllables of words, or any particular alphabet on a regular basis, she may be facing a stuttering problem. This may be a problem of the growth phase or a more permanent one. If you feel this coming on more than just a few times, or the stutter is pronounced on one alphabet, then you may want to get medical advice.
Below are Some of the Aspects to Look Out for:
Stuttering or stammering, as it may be called, is referred to as dysfluency in medical terms. This is a break away from the normal patterns of established speech. Stuttering may manifest itself in three ways:
- Repetition of a particular syllable or alphabet
- Omission of a particular alphabet and its replacement with another - ‘s’ instead of ‘r’and ‘y’ instead of ‘r’
- Additional stress on certain alphabets in speech
Normally, about 25% of children experience stuttering in the initial months of speech; however, most eventually grow out of it. About 5% of children may continue to face this problem beyond six months.
How to Differentiate between Regular Stuttering and the One That is the Problem?
- Your child puts in additional effort to pronounce certain words.
- She may struggle with the words and the strain will be visible in the facial muscles.
- She may also clench her fists tightly by her sides when faced with such a situation
- The child’s voice may suddenly become high-pitched in situations where she is struggling with a stutter
- A child, avoiding situations where she has to talk to before an audience
What can you Do as a Caregiver in Such a Situation?
Wait patiently until your child has completed her sentence. Do not show too much concern, else she may withdraw into a shell. Let her know that you understand the trouble she is facing, and you will both work on it together; also congratulate her for the effort taken in saying the sentence.
‘What’ is more important than ‘how’:
Let her know that the content of her sentence is more important than the manner in which she is saying it. Comment on her sentence’s content, so that she knows you are observing beyond just the stutter in her voice.
Very often, a child exhibits a stutter when her thoughts are running faster than her words. In such a case, show her that it is okay to speak slowly by doing it yourself. The child may also be facing a challenge if you speak fast, and she is trying to emulate you.
Therapy helps overcome the problem of a stutter almost completely. If not a physical problem, it definitely helps the child overcome her stigma attached to it.
Reduce the number of questions asked:
The child may feel constricted in a situation where she is constantly answering an adult; let her speak of her own mind rather than being directed by your questions.