Stuttering-- what's normal? what's not? - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-03-2010, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a 4-year-old who began stuttering last month out of the blue. It began on the second-to-last day of a 2-week vacation to visit family out-of-state; we were around a lot of people the entire time, and I wonder if all that exposure to different voices and terminology might've triggered a "language growth spurt" in her, in that she's learned a lot of new words, etc., but her mouth has yet to catch up to her brain (if that makes any sense). I thought maybe the stress of the trip might have something to do with it, too, because even though we all had a good time, two weeks away from the stable routine of home are bound to be stressful on a kid.

That said... when she started stuttering, it freaked me and DH out. We didn't show it, and we haven't demonstrated any frustration/other negative emotions with her when she does it. All we've said (and we've stopped this now, having read that it can cause frustration for a stutterer) is, "Slow down, baby, take your time." We make sure she has our undivided attention when she starts to struggle. But it's been a month since we got home from vacation, and it has yet to go away.

It comes in ebbs and flows. Some days she barely does it (although she almost always gets caught on her sister's name, which starts with B-- she'll say, "B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b" several times before getting the name out). Other days, like today (which is what prompted me to post this), she really struggles. She was just now on the phone with her grandmother, whom she adores and who adores her, and almost every other word came out with a stutter.

I did some research previous to all this, but keep running into two different schools of thought. One says, don't worry, kids almost always outgrow this, and if you bring them to a specialist, they could possibly become self-conscious about it-- just wait 6 months to a year and then get help if it hasn't gone away. The other school of thought (which is what's making me anxious here) says, get intervention NOW, or the stuttering will get a lot worse! I don't know which to believe, and I want the best for my little girl.

Are there any parents here who have been there, done that that can help shed light on this for me?

By the way, she hasn't commented on her stuttering, either, nor does she show any visible frustration. She usually does try to slow down when it starts, and that occasionally helps.

Traditional Catholic, aspiring to everyday sanctity. Mama to two amazing girls. Wife to my best friend.
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Old 01-03-2010, 02:40 PM
 
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I took our second DD for an assessment as soon as she started stuttering. We didn't pursue therapy, but we did do an initial visit and a follow up appointment.

The SLP helped a lot. She helped us to understand the mechanics of DD's stuttering, and how to best support DD while she was "growing out of it." She also told us what to watch for in terms of when we probably should seek therapy.

For younger children, most speech therapy happens through play. An older child might become self conscious about therapy, but little kids usually think that it's just fun. Honestly, I doubt that the therapy makes preschoolers self conscious. Difficulty communicating and people responding to their stuttering inappropriately probably makes them self conscious.

Our DD was a lot younger than yours when we went through this. There was one week when she literally could not talk, but she still outgrew it in a couple of months.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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Ds did this when he was 4yo. I got the advice that if it didn't improve in a couple months, to think more seriously about getting a professional opinion. It stopped within the couple months.

It was like your dd- it seemed to me that he had a "language growth spurt" and his brain was going faster than his head. We ignored it for the most part, but if he got a little frustrated I'd tell him to slow down and think about what he wanted to say.
He never got very frustrated though. If he had, I would have considered calling someone sooner.

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Old 01-04-2010, 01:51 AM
 
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My son started stuttering at around 3.5 years old. I did the wait-and-see approach, and the day he asked me to turn the CD player off because he couldn't get the /s/ of "skip to the next song" out was the day I called for an appointment. He started therapy at about 4 years 3 months, went twice a week for an academic year, and now at age 6.5 you'd never tell.

One thing I would recommend doing now is to call around and see what kind of wait times there are to get evaluated and start therapy. If you're facing long waitlists, you might want to get on them now while you're waiting and seeing, and cancel them if you don't need them. We went the route of being evaluated through our local school district, and while it was free and we all loved his therapist, it did take several months to finish the process, and then we had to wait for the school year to start again for the therapy to start. There was also a high threshold to qualify for services. The timing issue will vary by school district, but in general your child will need to have a pretty severe speech issue to be eligible for services through your school district.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:43 AM
 
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I'd give her another 3-4 weeks, and if she's still doing it, call for an assessment. While some stuttering is normal, getting stuck on a single sound is a red flag for something that might become more serious. Most kids do outgrow this, but if it's been going on for 2 months, I think it's time to get an outside opinion.

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Old 01-04-2010, 05:58 AM
 
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DS stuttered for a couple of weeks around 2.5 yo. Freaked me out, but it disappeared as suddenly as it started.
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:40 AM
 
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Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much just yet. My dd stuttered for a brief period of time, maybe a few months, and then stopped just as randomly as she started. I almost forgot about it, actually. She was around 4 as well, maybe still 3, but it wasn't all that long ago (she's about to turn 5). She's always been such a talker, was talking quite a bit before she even learned how to walk, so it was a surprise. But just like that, it went away.

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Old 01-04-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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My DD stuttered for few weeks and later disappeared.. I don't have to worry about that..
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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It sounds to me in your post like you want to get a professional opinion on this but you are concerned about the effects on your daughter about drawing attention to the fact that her stuttering may be a problem. We struggled with similar issues with my son when we took him to a child psychologist. It was actually really easy and DS's experience turned out to be a positive one. We told him that we were going to go and meet a new doctor and that DS would get to play in the Drs office. When we arrived, that's exactly what happened. DS didn't know why exactly we were there, and I don't believe our visit impacted him at all.

Speaking to a specialist may be helpful to you to ease your fears and you may find that he(or she) gives you more strategies that you hadn't heard before about things you can do to ease your DD's stutterings.

We found with our DS when he had a stuttering period that it really helped him when we modeled slower speaking to him, and when he did start to stutter, to let him finish and not cut him off or finish the word/sentence for him. (It sounds like, from what you said above, that you too are doing similar things). We were never concerned about DS's stuttering, and it has gone away now. It lasted for about 6 months to a year.
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