Stuttering/stammering speech in children
Stuttering is a defect in speech characterised by hesitation or stumbling and spasmodic repetition of some syllables with a pause. There is trouble pronouncing the initial consonants and is usually caused by spasm of the muscles of the palate and tongue.
Most children will show some degree of hesitation and repetition in their speech at some periods in early life, however there are individual variations in the extant of such difficulties. Whereas some children can speak fluently, others are severely handicapped.It is possible that children who are unable to cope with the environmental and emotional stresses are more likely to develop stuttering.
Stuttering usually begins between 2 to 5 yrs of age, a period in which the speech is not fluent. Parents and playmates that remind or ridicule the child of its stumbling speech usually aggravate the emotional stress associated with stuttering. As a result the child loses his/her self confidence and becomes more hesitant in speech.Many a times the stress caused by the conflict between parental expectations and child’s achievements may precipitate stuttering. There is little evidence to prove that stuttering is more common in left handed children who were forced to use their right hand by their parents.
Parents of young children with stuttering can find this fact reassuring that most of the children will outgrow the stuttering by 4-5 years of age. Parents should not be seen to show undue concern about the child’s speech and should accept the child’s speech without pressurising the child to correct his so called handicap. Older children with stuttering will often require professional help and assistance. Older children with stuttering will benefit from early consultation with a speech therapist. Regular speech therapy if instituted early can help these children completely rid of stuttering. Children with stuttering should receive special attention from parents. They must be given plenty of emotional support and love. All efforts should be made to make the child take part in extracurricular activities as this will help the child gain confidence.
Remember, children who stutter are not mentally retarded; they are normal human beings like you and me with normal or even above normal IQ. A kind and sympathetic attitude on part of parents will be the greatest asset of these children in their fight against stuttering.