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How should I deal with my son's stammering problem?

Q: My son is 5 years old. He started stammering when he was two years old. I noticed his stammering when we shifted our house to a different locality for my husband's convenience. My son was very close to the landlady of our previous house. She was very affectionate towards him and he too loved to stay with her. Initially when he started stammering, I thought it would resolve when he forgets her, but it has been three years. He stammers on almost every word he speaks. I am worried and want help to make him speak fluently. Please advise.

A:When a 3 to 5 year old child begins to hesitate/stammer or stutter, parents naturally become worried about this and may unknowingly handle the problem incorrectly resulting in increasing rather than decreasing the stammering. Here is a typical case-history: Mu..mmm..mum..mummy! We wa.wa.wa..won the mmm..mmmatch! Mrs. Sharmas body tenses up whenever she hears her 10-year old son stammering. She becomes desperate herself, when Amit gets stuck on a word and struggles so hard to speak it out. His young-er brother speaks absolutely normally which makes it even more difficult for Amit. Mrs. Sharma: Sometimes, a class-mate might tease him and that makes Amit feel as if he is abnormal. Last year he used to come home crying. He speaks quite well with everyone at home or with some of his friends. He has no difficulty when he sings or recites from memory. But when the teacher asks him to read in class, he breaks down into severe stammering. The problem is especially noticeable when he is excited or angry. Talking on the telephone is also difficult for Amit. From the time he was 4 years old and had started stammering, we had mentioned it to our paediatrician but he advised us not to worry because it would disappear when Amit reached 6 years of age. Now, 4 years later, the problem is, in fact, increasing. I feel helpless. Children who have a case background history similar to Amit need to be handled with special gentleness and support from parents. Feeling increasingly concerned about their child's speech problem, parents employ a variety of corrective methods ranging from scolding or even beating the child (in extreme cases) to frequently correcting him or promising him rewards if he is fluent to getting angry or upset with him. All these techniques only indicate the degree of the parent's worry and need to be changed. Continued parental counselling is required, which forms half of the therapy plan. Alongside, the child should be given certain simple therapy practices to help him time his speech better and to develop habits of easier breathing patterns.


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