Stuttering: Tips to help your child

At breakfast one morning, Adam turned to his mother and asked, “M-m-m-mommy, can I, can I, can I have ssssome milk?” Never having experienced this change in speech before, Adam's mother smiled back and gave him his milk and a hug.

Adam was then three years old. He would speak fluently for weeks at a time but then the stuttering would start up again with no warning. "We asked around to our doctor and other parents for advice on how to help Adam," his mother explains. "But everyone told us he would just outgrow this 'stuttering phase'."

But he didn't. Although his parents waited for the time when the stuttering wouldn't return, time and time again it did, with dramatically shorter breaks and more severe speech difficulty with each new episode.

Now eight, Adam says his situation “Just makes me so angry sometimes. Kids tease me. They call me A-a-a-a-dam. My stuttering is like a ferocious animal that no one understands and it’s all my fault.”

Should any child experience the feelings of powerlessness, anger, frustration, pain, fear and shame that are frequently associated with stuttering? Certainly not. These feelings could have been avoided if Adam’s family was given the right advice. Research now supports the understanding that early intervention is key to lifelong fluent speech. Like many parents of children who stutter, Adam's mother warns, “Don’t wait, don’t take the chance that your child will outgrow the problem. Look for qualified help. Having seen the pain this has caused my son I know now that it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

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