Stuttering in children is a common communication difficulty that typically arises in early childhood, often before the age of three, usually between the ages of two and five. Stuttering or dysfluency are however not a part of every child’s development. Not all children will experience it as they develop their communication and speech.
Research indicates that stuttering occurs in approximately five percent of children under the age of five. It is observed across cultures and countries and in both boys and girls, although it is more common in boys.
The onset of stuttering in children can appear to be quite sudden, alternatively it may develop gradually over time. Parents often also observe that their child’s stuttering may fluctuate at different times.
For example, it might be more noticeable when a child is experiencing a particular emotion such as excitement, or when they are tired or have had a big day. Conversely, there may also be particular speaking situations during which a child appears to be free from stuttering or dysfluency. Some of the more common situations include when the toddler or child is singing, talking to babies or very young children, whispering, or perhaps when they are ‘putting on a show’ and playing a character or role.
Stuttering comes in many different shapes and sizes. In other words, a person who is stuttering may present with one or more of a number of behaviours. It does not always appear in the way people may expect after having seen actors portraying people who stutter, whereby they are often struggling greatly to get any sounds out at all.
The cause is not yet fully understood, although research in the area continues.
The great news is that, especially in younger children, stuttering treatment can be highly effective and the child can regain their fluency. The important thing is to keep an eye on the child’s speech and if there is a concern about stuttering the advice of a speech pathologist should be sought.
Please Contact Words in Motion Speech Pathology if you have an enquiry regarding stuttering.