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boy-1721405_1920Reader Question: My son is two and half and is beginning to stutter. Up until now, he has been a good talker. But when he gets excited, we’ve noticed he stutters, like his brain can’t catch up to his mouth. We are not sure how to handle this and wonder if we should seek help.

It is common for kids to stutter between the ages of two and three. The key is to determine whether your son has what is called, “transient dysfluency of childhood” which typically goes away, or is a true stutterer. The majority of kids who begin to stutter will stop because they are not true stutterers. When they get excited, they can be tired, angry, or upset and can’t quite get the words out right away. They do more fumbling over words rather than having an actual problem getting the words out. This is due to the rapid development a child experiences in his verbal abilities at this age. And as you put it, his brain doesn’t keep up with the pace of his talking.

Stuttering tends to run in families and affects more boys than girls. Current thinking is that it is a speech disorder that has genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers. It is not a physical or psychological disorder, but considered a developmental disorder. However, if your child is a stutterer, the earlier you treat, the better. So talk to your pediatrician and engage a speech therapist. A speech therapist can be very helpful in term of treating your child and helping you respond in a relaxed and supportive way.

Pay attention to whether or not the stuttering bothers or upsets your son. Also notice if it occurs in situations other than when he is excited or anxious.

Does his pitch change and is he struggling to get words out?

Are his repetitions long and frequent?

Does he block words and sounds?

Does he avoid saying difficult words?

These are just a few observations to make. The Stuttering Foundation of America has materials that can help you determine if you need help or you can consult a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation. To find a speech-language pathologist, call your school and ask for help. Schools provide free speech therapy to children as young as three years of age.

 

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