There are several possible causes of stuttering. Stuttering in children is one of the most common fluency disorders. It involves an interruption of the forward flow of speech. Speech may be broken up by repeating or extending sounds, syllables or words. Children may have difficulty getting a word started.
Some degree of stuttering is actually quite common for young children, and most will outgrow it before the age of seven. However, if stuttering results in frustration and the general language becomes labored for your child, it may be time to seek help from a professional in the form of speech and language therapy.
Nature or Nurture?
Although the exact causes of stuttering have not been identified, there are several accepted theories. One theory is that stuttering is genetic. This theory advocates that some people stutter due to DNA markers that were passed on from a parent.
In children, it is believed that most stuttering is the result of developmental challenges. These occur when the language demands that are placed on the child lead to anxiety.
There are also neurological causes of stuttering. In these cases, there are problems with the brain, nerves or muscles. The brain is unable to adequately coordinate the different muscles needed to create proper speech. These problems can be present from birth, or they can result from a traumatic brain injury.
Environment may also be to blame. A child who has experienced severe mental anguish may start to stutter. Psychogenic stuttering occasionally occurs in those who have mental illnesses.
Treatments for Stuttering
There is no cure for stuttering, although children often outgrow it. If your child's language is hindered by stuttering, you should have him evaluated by a speech-language therapist. This professional can recommend a variety of treatments for stuttering and aid you in working with your child at home.
A speech-language therapist may teach your child in relearning how to speak and controlling faulty ways of speaking. Additionally, the therapist may help your child avoid some of the psychological effects that can occur in children that stutter, such as speaking phobias.
There are several ways that you can help your child with stuttering.
Do not rush conversations. Speaking rapidly may actually cause anxiety and encourage the stuttering. Instead, speak in a slow and relaxed manner. This will encourage your child to speak this way and reduce the frequency of stuttering. Encourage all family members to take turns speaking so that nobody's trying to jump into a conversation or rush through a thought, which can also cause anxiety.
Do have realistic expectations for speech therapy. Speech therapy is not a magic cure; however, a more natural way of speaking should be the result. If your child gets frustrated, remind her that therapy will help make speaking less difficult.
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