In this series, we've been discussing early childhood stuttering. It can be a complex topic, so be sure to check out the other videos and posts for additional information, including signs that your child may have a stuttering or fluency disorder, and what to try and avoid when talking with a child that stutters. In this post we'll discuss what you can do to help, so let's get started.
Modeling "Easy Speech"
One of the easiest strategies to remember and practice is called "easy speech." For young kids that don't yet seem to show awareness of their stutter, we want to support them in an indirect way that doesn't necessarily draw attention to the stutter itself. We can model easy, relaxed speech when talking with them and you'll notice that their speech will start to imitate yours if you remain consistent.
What Does "Easy Speech" Sound Like?
With easy speech, we want to stretch out our words and keep our rate of speech slow. We can still be animated, but our speech should be smooth. It can take some time getting used to this technique and making it the way you naturally speak with your child, so give yourself a fair shot.
Any tip is to try and manage conversation in the household. As a child, it can feel tough to have your chance at talking when everyone else has something to say. If your child is showing signs of stuttering and has siblings, take some opportunities to insist upon conversational turn-taking. The dinner table can be a great place to try this out.
Remove Conversational and Time Pressure
We can also reduce conversational pressure when talking with a child that stutters. Try making more comments and observations rather than asking direct questions. Let's take reading for example. Instead of asking "what is the bear doing on this page?" try "I see the bear eating honey."
Also, demonstrate pauses in your own speech when responding to questions that your child asks. This will show them that taking your time to respond is okay.
What if These Tips Don't Seem to Be Enough?
These tips can be helpful and supportive for a child who demonstrates stuttering or disfluencies in their speech. However, there are cases where direct intervention supported by a skilled speech-language pathologist is the best course of action. If you're concerned about your child's speech, talk with their pediatrician and consider contacting a speech therapist directly for an evaluation.