Stuttering in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Stuttering is a type of speech problem. In some cases, a child repeats words or sounds or makes them longer than normal. Other times, a child skips words or sounds.

The cause of stuttering is not known. But it happens when the brain isn't able to send and receive messages in a normal way. It often gets worse at stressful times, such as when a child speaks in public. It often does not happen when the child sings, whispers, talks while alone or to pets, or reads aloud with a group.

Sometimes stuttering gets better on its own. But some types probably will not get better without treatment. Treatment can be helpful even for short-term stuttering.

Treatment often includes speech therapy for the child and counseling for parents. Speech therapy can help your child learn speech and language skills. It can also help your child feel better about his or her speaking. Counseling teaches parents about speech development. It also teaches them how to help their child at home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Speak calmly and slowly. Pause often when you talk to your child. Use short, simple sentences.
  • Have quiet time alone with your child each day. Let your child direct the activities, including conversation. Show that you enjoy this time together. This can help your child's confidence.
  • Be polite when your child speaks. Try not to criticize, interrupt, or ask too many questions. Give your child the time and attention he or she needs to express thoughts and ideas.
  • Try not to correct your child.
  • Use positive expressions and body language when you listen to your child. When your child stutters, show that you are focused on the message and not on how he or she talks.
  • Help all family members learn good communication skills. Encourage everyone to listen closely when talking with your child who stutters.
  • Let your child know that you accept him or her no matter what. This is one of the best things you can do to help your child overcome stuttering.
  • Think about writing down how your child's speech patterns improve or change. Your doctor or speech therapist can help you know what to look for and how to track progress.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have any concerns about your child's speech.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.