As we all know, young children often stumble over and repeat their words: it’s simply a part of learning how to talk. However, while they are this age, it can be difficult to know the difference between which disfluencies are a normal part of development, and when you should be more concerned.

As stuttering is quite a common, yet highly treatable speech impediment in children (9% of all children in Australia stutter), it’s worthwhile taking them to a Speech Pathologist to have their speech checked as a precaution.

At Alex V. Speech Pathology, we use evidence-based methods to diagnose and treat stuttering in children. Therefore, we’re sharing below a helpful guide on stuttering vs child’s talk and how to tell what’s normal.

Therapy for Stuttering

Normal Child’s Talk

When learning to speak, it’s not uncommon for young children to have word or phrase repetitions in their speech. Around 5% of children are likely to experience disfluency at some stage in their development, often between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 where it’s typical for them to drop in and out of fluent speech. This will usually happen when the child is excited or tired and isn’t thinking carefully about their speech.

The reason why children might experience disfluencies is because their vocabularies are rapidly expanding, where they are learning complex language tools such as learning how to change simple messages into more complex sentences. This requires more motor coordination, so it’s only natural that there might be discrepancies along the way.

Stuttering Help

When it’s Stuttering 

While, yes, sometimes stuttering goes away on its own, you can never assume that a stutter will go away, which is why it’s important to seek treatment for the best chances of reducing stuttering.  Below are some helpful ways to differentiate typical child’s talk from stuttering. It’s important to remember that this is only a guide and if your child is excessively stuttering, it’s still important to seek help.

Typical Child’s TalkSigns of Stuttering
Repeating phrases and entire words.Repeating sounds or syllables in addition to phrases and words. (b-b-b or ch-ch-ch)
Use of filler sounds such as um, uh and like.Prolonging sounds (sssssometimes I play outside)
No physical struggle when speaking.Child shows physical struggle when speaking and/or cannot make the sound.
No other concerning behaviours when speaking.Behaviours accompanying speaking such as eye blinking, throat clearing, tapping, fidgeting.
No expression of frustration when speaking.Negative reaction toward speaking.
No family history of stuttering.Family history of stuttering.
Symptoms of disfluency disappear after 6 months.   Symptoms of stuttering last longer
Stuttering is gone by age 7.Stuttering is still persistent at age 7.

Treatment for Stuttering

At Alex V. Speech Pathology, we used evidence-based treatments to ensure effective recovery for children suffering with speech disfluencies. One of the most common treatments we use for stuttering is the Lidcombe Program of early stuttering intervention. This treatment is an indirect form of treatment whereby our Speech Pathologists help the parent or guardian to administer treatment outside of sessions. Another form of treatment is direct treatment which involves the Speech Pathologist working with the child to provide them with strategies to reduce stuttering.

The Alex V. Speech Pathology Experience

Unlike some Speech Pathology clinics, Alex V. Speech Pathology is designed just for children. We understand that attending appointments can be daunting for any child, so we make an effort to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Upon entering our clinic, you and your child will be greeted with colourful paintings, toys, books and friendly staff who will help you feel at ease. During treatments, we spend time focusing on building a relationship with your child and learning about their interests and hobbies to help them stay engaged. By doing this, we see the most effective results, which will pay off for you and your child.

If you think your child might have a stuttering issue, contact Alex V. Speech Pathology on (07) 3217 7037 and one of our friendly team will book you in for a consultation.