It’s International Stammering Day on Sunday, a reminder of how many kids suffer from speech difficulties and what parents should be aware of.
For kids who stammer, expressing themselves can prove frustrating and upsetting, and they may struggle with low self-esteem as a result. So, what causes stammering, what what do parents need to know?
- Around 3% of adults stammer, and 8% of kids.
- Stammering is much more common in boys than girls- around 75% of stammers are in boys.
- Stammering isn’t only repeating sounds, it can also show as prolonged sounds/ words, and delays in getting words out.
- Children may end up avoiding saying certain words or letters in a bid to avoid stammering.
- Stammers often start between the ages of 2-5.
- Scientists don’t know what causes it, however recent research suggests that it may be linked to reduced blood flow to an area of the brain.
Life with a stammer
As stammers can cause difficulties communicating, some children may find their confidence affected. Working with a speech therapist can help children reduce their stammering through finding ways to ‘slide’ into words, or speak more slowly. Group therapy with other stammering children of similar age can also help as they understand that they’re not isolated and alone.
Slowing down the family pace of life can help with stammering, as can reduced stress. Speaking more slowly to your child can also help as they will naturally ‘mirror’ you, which can help them speak more smoothly. Your child’s speech therapist can advise on strategies that you can adopt to help them, and things for them to practise.
Some children grow out of stammering, and others will stammer for life.
I think my child may have a stammer. What now?
In the first instance, speak to your family GP, who can refer your child to the speech and language therapy team.
If you suspect your child has a stammer, you may also wish to notify the school, so that they can also provide support.