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In the Classroom: The Sunshines

Stuttering in the Toddler Years

The toddlers years are a time of language explosion! As part of this growth, each year in the Sunshine room, we usually have at least three or four children who begin stuttering. One day their language is stutter-free and the next day the stuttering starts. I always try to reassure parents that this is a normal part of language development and that the children usually outgrow it. Research shows that stuttering is common for children between the ages of two and five years of age and is most common for children who are learning to form words into sentences. It is a simple part of learning to use language and putting words together to form sentences. It may come and go, may last for a few weeks or for a couple years. Most children outgrow stuttering on their own without professional intervention.

Stuttering is a disruption in the normal patterns of speech. It may take many forms. Sometimes stuttering is the omission of a sound. It can also be a prolongation of a sound such as “li-li-like” or “um.”  

There are  signs to look for to tell if stuttering may develop into a more serious issue.  You may notice tension and a struggle with a child’s facial muscles. Or you may notice the child’s voice rising in pitch with repetitions. In more severe cases, the child may avoid stuttering by changing words or using extra sounds to start talking. Sometimes a child will try to avoid situations where he or she needs to talk.

If you are concerned about your child’s stuttering, please see your pediatrician. Your doctor may refer you to a speech-language pathologist who can evaluate your child and determine whether or not there is a risk of a long-term problem. There is no cure and no medication approved to treat stuttering. However there are techniques you can use at home to help your child. Try seven tips for talking with the child who stutters