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Help is Available for Children Who Stutter

29 August 2013

Help is Available for Children Who Stutter

The latest research from Australia estimates that more than one in ten children are affected by stuttering by the time they’re four. In an article published online in the American Pediatric Journal earlier in the week, Professor Sheena Reilly, leader of a research team that followed 1600 infants up until the age of four found that although rates of recovery from stuttering was significantly lower than previously thought, children who stuttered demonstrated similar emotional development scores compared to non-stuttering children. This can be seen as promising news for parents who are extremely anxious about their child’s stuttering in the early years, though speech language therapists would still recommend getting help early, especially as treatment is known to be most effective in the pre-school years.

Janelle Irvine, manager and specialist speech language therapist at the Stuttering Treatment and Research Trust (START) in Auckland found it surprising that recovery rates were lower than previously thought but also welcomed the fact that young children were not suffering emotionally as a consequence of their stuttering.

“We’ve always thought that around 70-80% of pre-school children who stutter naturally recovered within the first 6-12 months, but this study suggests much fewer numbers recover on their own which reinforces the importance of getting help and advice early on.”

“Usually the pre-school children we see don’t tend to suffer from negative peer or listener reactions to their stuttering but certainly as children get older and if stuttering persists into their school years, teasing and bullying can become an issue which is another reason to seek advice and help early.”

So what can parents do if they find their pre-schooler has developed a stutter?

“Don’t wait for stuttering to disappear. Get help and give START a call. We would always endorse early help and intervention as we still do not know which children will or won’t recover. What we do know is that early help is highly effective. When children are little, therapy is relatively straightforward. But as children get older and enter school, it’s a whole different ball game and treatment is often more complex and full recovery is less likely. We continue to see children at 7 or 8 referred to our clinic because their parents were told to wait by doctors or teachers. Get help as early as you can. Parents do not cause stuttering, but we know you can make a huge difference.”


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