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International Stuttering Awareness Day will be observed on Saturday, Oct. 22, which makes this a good time to learn about supporting a child who stutters.
Approximately 5%–10% of all children will stutter for some period in their life, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. And boys are two to three times as likely to stutter as girls.
Stuttering, also called stammering or childhood-onset fluency disorder, is a speech disorder that involves frequent and significant problems with normal fluency and flow of speech. People who stutter know what they want to say, but they have difficulty saying it. They may repeat or prolong a word, a syllable, or a consonant or vowel sound. Or they may pause during speech because they've reached a problematic word or sound.
Stuttering is common among young children as a normal part of learning to speak. Young children may stutter when their speech and language abilities aren't developed enough to keep up with what they want to say. Most children outgrow this developmental stuttering. Sometimes, however, stuttering is a chronic condition that persists into adulthood. This type of stuttering can affect self-esteem and interactions with other people.
Call your child's primary health care professional for a referral or contact a speech-language pathologist directly for an appointment if stuttering:
After a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist, a decision about the best treatment approach can be made.
Several approaches are available to treat children who stutter. Because of varying individual issues and needs, a method or combination of methods that's helpful for one child may not be as effective for another. Treatment can include speech therapy, electronic devices to enhance fluency, cognitive behavioral therapy and parental involvement in practicing techniques at home.
In addition to treatment, these tips also may help:
Connect with other parents and caregivers in the About Kids & Teens support group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.
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