Speaking Fluency and Stuttering
Stuttering refers to a disruption in speaking fluency, and can be characterized by repetitions and/or prolongations of speech sounds (most often at the beginning of words), and/or part-word/whole-word repetitions.
When assessing a child's fluency, your clinician will consider many variables in order to determine the need for further assessment and/or intervention:
- Family History, genetic predisposition
- Onset, gradual or abrupt (Was there a trigger, such as a traumatic event?)
- Frequency of sound/word repetitions
- Degree of tension or struggle if present
- Environmental factors
If you have concerns about your child's speaking fluency, an assessment is warranted. Preschoolers who are unaware (and therefore not bothered by) their stuttering will often respond to basic fluency shaping techniques and indirect methods, such as modelling and reinforcing turtle talking and smooth talking, parent coaching, and modifying any environmental contributors. Your clinician will employ fluency enhancing strategies, provide direct parent coaching and counseling, and will carefully monitor your child's progress. Some of our At Home Speech clinicians are trained in an evidenced-based method called Lidcombe.
School-age children with significant stuttering, often show increased tension in the speech/voice musculature, and may demonstrate secondary behaviors (eg. twitching). Children may choose different wording in order to avoid certain words that they fear they may stutter on, and may even avoid certain social speaking situations. Therapeutic techniques are more direct but also holistic, targeting not only the moment of stuttering but also instilling a positive mind set and boosting the student's social speaking confidence accross settings.