As children grow and develop language, many may display “typical disfluencies” in their speech. These disfluencies are natural as the young child’s language is emerging, and his or her speech system is working hard to put together new words in a variety of ways.
Typical disfluencies occur between the ages of 2 ½ and 5. They can include:
- Multisyllabic whole word repetitions (e.g. “Gimmie gimmie the cookie”)
- Interjections (e.g. “I um, went to the kitchen”)
- Phrase repetitions (e.g. “I want I want I want a cookie”)
- Phrase revisions or abandoned utterances (“I want.. Can I have a cookie?”)
Typical disfluencies are common among young children and are not cause for concern.
The disfluencies characteristic of Childhood Onset Stuttering are different than typical disfluencies.
Some examples of the disfluencies seen in Childhood Onset Stuttering include:
- Monosyllabic whole word repetitions (e.g. “I-I-I-I- want the cookie”)
- Sound / syllable repetitions (e.g. “be-be-be-because I’m hungry”)
- Prolongation of sounds (e.g. “IIIIIIIIIIIIII want a cookie”)
- Blocks (when no sound comes out)
These disfluencies may be accompanied by:
- Signs of physical tension or struggle, such as eye blinks, facial grimaces, head or body movements, and/or distracting sounds
- Negative reactions towards talking
- Avoidance of certain sounds, words, or situations
In addition to the types of disfluencies demonstrated, the following are considered risk factors for persisting stuttering:
- Being male
- Having a family history of persistent stuttering
- Having a later onset of stuttering
- Demonstrating stuttering for a longer period of time (6 months to a year or more)
- Having delayed or advanced language skills
- Another speech/language disorder
Knowing the differences between typical disfluencies and Childhood Onset Stuttering can help identify those children that would benefit from therapy. If you’re not sure if your child is demonstrating Childhood Onset stuttering, contact a speech language pathologist with experience in stuttering. Your speech language pathologist can help determine if therapy is recommended, and if so, assist you in finding the therapy approach that would be the best fit for your child and family.
Jessica Safer, MA, CCC-SLP, is a clinician at The Stuttering Clinic at National Therapy Center. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 4, Fluency and Fluency Disorders. You can contact her at Jessica.Safer@nationaltherapycenter.com