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What is stammering?
What is the cause?
What is wrong with the child?
What is the treatment?
How to prevent it?
 
Sun,23 Sep 2001 05:30:00 +0530
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
Checked by : Dr Ajit Man Singh
Senior Consultant ENT & Head and Neck Surgery,
Max Healthcare,
New Delhi
 
  • What is stammering?
    Sun,23 Sep 2001 05:30:00
    Stammering is the inability to speak in a typically fluent manner and maintain a smooth flow of words in the form of sentences. It is a condition affecting predominantly the male child. It usually starts before the child is five years of age. If left untreated, it becomes severe during the teens and then begins to stabilize or fade away as the person grows older.

    The characteristics are:

  • Repetitions of sounds, syllables, words or phrases
  • Hesitations and pauses in speech
  • Absence of smooth speech flow which increases when tired, excited or stressed. It is significantly increased when the person is made conscious of the fact and his anxiety level becomes high.
  • Fear of talking
  • What is the cause?
    Sun,23 Sep 2001 05:30:00
    Speaking is not merely the movement of the tongue but involves a fine coordination of both mental and physical processes. Like all other physical actions, speech is the result of neuro-muscular coordination that involves the transmission of electro-chemical messages from the brain to the appropriate muscle groups.

    There is no single factor that has been identified as the cause of stammering. The majority of stammerers have a family history of the disorder. A stammerer knows precisely what he wants to say but cannot, for a moment, say it because of an involuntary repetition, or prolongation of speech sound. It might be caused due to the lack of neuro-muscular coordination during the act of speech, which leaves the stammerer confused about when exactly to say the words.

    Other factors which may cause excessive emotional strain such as performance pressure, dramatic changes in the environment, etc. can precipitate stammering. Some of the common factors are the change of schools, moving homes, birth of a sibling, separation of parents, conflict in the family and demands exceeding the capacity of the child. However, even if any of these situations trigger of a stammering problem, help from a qualified speech therapist can help control the condition and prevent it from developing further.
  • What is wrong with the child?
    Sun,23 Sep 2001 05:30:00
    As a child stammers, he builds an accumulated fear of stammering. With growing years, these fears keep increasing until the child begins to experience tremendous frustration, anxiety, shame, embarrassment and even guilt. He begins to shy away from speaking and fears listeners. He also loses confidence in the process. Most stammerers are very sensitive people.
  • What is the treatment?
    Sun,23 Sep 2001 05:30:00
    If your child has not achieved fluency of language when around four to five years of age, he must be taken to a therapist. Stammering is not a disease therefore, it cannot be treated with medicines. The stammering child or adult has to be helped to develop a new, more fluent manner of speech through specific speech fluency building techniques. Answering the roll call in a class, speaking on the telephone, talking to someone in authority, speaking in a group, are some of the situations, which might help to improve the child’s personality. There is no other solution but just to make a sincere effort to undo stammering. A speech therapist might be of help under these conditions. Never hide the problem. If the stammerer is open about his speech difficulty, he experiences lesser stress and is able to speak with greater control.

    Stammering can be overcome by seeking scientific and professional guidance. It can be cured easily and quickly provided the parents strictly follow the counselling advice given by the speech therapist. It certainly requires patience and parents have to realize this fact.
  • How to prevent it?
    Sun,23 Sep 2001 05:30:00
    Converse with your child

    Converse with your child as much as you can. Keep the content light and pleasant. Allow him to contribute to the conversations.

    Remember it is normal

    It is quite normal for him to mispronounce or stumble over a word. Do not always try to correct your child’s speech and improve his grammar. Allow him ample time to complete the sentences without interrupting him.

    Become a careful listener

    When your child is trying to convey, try and listen to him carefully, without having to ask him to repeat or start over again. Convey the fact that you have plenty of time to listen to him and don’t make him repeat a word that she finds hard to pronounce.

    Comfort and reassure him

    When he is frightened or upset comfort and reassure him, do not keep interrupting with questions. Help him to feel relaxed and avoid situations that bring about stuttering. Don’t make fun of him by imitating him. Do not make him excessively conscious of minor errors in pronunciation as that will only reinforce the problem.
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