Developmental Dysfluency (Stuttering/ Stammering)
It can be understandably extremely distressing and anxiety provoking for parents when their child begins to stammer. The onset can sometimes be correlated with a specific event, however often it seems to happen ‘out of the blue’.
Stuttering, also called stammering or dysfluency, is a disruption in the normal fluent patterns of speech production. Estimates of the prevalence of stammering in preschool children vary from 5-8%. The majority of stammering typically occurs between two and four years of age, when children are rapidly developing their speech, language and motor skills. At this age, the ratio of boys to girls who stutter is roughly equivalent, however in school-age children and adults who stammer, the ratio of boys who stutter is estimated to be 5 or 6 times higher in boys than girls.
Stuttering as a condition has been extensively researched over the decades, however it is widely accepted that it is a neurodevelopmental, multifactorial condition involving a complex interplay between genetics, neurology and character. Approximately 30-60% of people who stammer report having at least one family member who stammers. A typical feature of dysfluency is also its inconsistency and stuttering can frequently vary with regards to the frequency and severity of the dysfluency. In adults, this unpredictability can also be one of the more frustrating aspects of the condition.
It is important to remember that parents do not cause stammering, nor does stuttering have any correlation with intellect. In fact, there have been many famous and celebrated individuals over the course of history who have stammered (King George VI, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Jo Biden and Ed Sheeran to name but a few).
What is important is early intervention and support from a Speech and Language Therapist with expertise and training in this area. We now know that our brains have neuroplasticity and that as with many other conditions, brain connections in individuals who stammer can form and change in response to input and learning.
Do you or your child stammer and is this causing concern?
Please do not hesitate to get in touch and let me help you support you and/or your child with your/their speech fluency.
Kelman, Elaine and Nicholas, Alison. (2020). “Palin Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Early Childhood Stammering”. 2nd Ed