STUTTERING

Speech Therapy for Children

Stuttering (sometimes referred to as disfluency) is a communication difficulty that affects the fluency and flow of speech.

It is common for many children of all ages to experience disfluencies. This does not necessarily mean that there is a problem. However, frequent disfluencies can result in difficulties with communication and can be frustrating and upsetting for the person communicating as well as for the family. A speech-language pathologist (S-LP) can determine if your child’s disfluencies warrant therapy.

Stuttering may include repetitions of whole words, parts of words and initial letters of words and may also involve prolongations (stretching of sounds). Sometime speech may become blocked. The causes of stuttering are complex and varied.

Early referral to an S-LP is advocated as early intervention is frequently associated with more successful outcomes. In some instances, stuttering may begin or reoccur in older children. In all instances, the assessment includes a detailed evaluation of fluency and a determination of speech and language features. Other factors that may contribute to a child’s fluency issues will be evaluated e.g. confidence when speaking, challenges communicating with friends etc.

Once the S-LP recommends therapy she/he will use different approaches depending on age, level of severity and environmental factors (e.g. school environment). At the Speech Therapy Centres of Canada (STCC) we use a holistic approach to treatment, by looking at the child in the context of family, friends and school environment. In preschool children, therapy may include specific programs e.g. Lidcombe Program. In school-aged children, the approach may be slightly different. Other techniques and coping strategies may be selected. Confidence when talking and parent involvement are an important part of the process at any age.

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