For very young children, early treatment may prevent developmental stuttering from becoming a lifelong problem. Certain strategies can help children learn to improve their speech fluency while developing positive attitudes toward communication.
Health professionals recommend that a child be evaluated if he or she has stuttered for 3 to 6 months, exhibits struggle behaviors associated with stuttering or has a family history of stuttering or related communication disorders.
Some researchers recommend that a child be evaluated every three months to determine if the stuttering is increasing or decreasing.
Treatment often involves teaching parents about ways to support their child’s production of fluent speech.
Parents may be encouraged to:
• Provide a relaxed home environment that allows many opportunities for the child to speak. It includes setting aside time to talk to one another, especially when the child is excited and has a lot to say.
• Listen attentively when the child speaks and focus on the content of the message, rather than responding to how it is said or interrupting the child.
• Speak in a slightly slowed and relaxed manner. It can help reduce time pressures the child may be experiencing.
• Listen attentively when the child speaks and wait for him or her to say the intended word. Don’t try to complete the child’s sentences. Also, help the child learn that a person can communicate successfully even when stuttering occurs.
• Talk openly and honestly to the child about stuttering if he or she brings up the subject. Let the child know that it is okay for some disruptions to occur.