Summary

If you think your child is stammering you should always contact a speech and language therapist who ideally specialises in stammering. Many services are able to work with the teacher as well as the parent so that the child feels supported in the classroom. Most services accept referrals directly from parents.

The BSA can supply the contact details of your local service.

Is my child stammering?

Stammering can take many different forms as a child gets older and every child who stammers will do so in his own way but some of these characteristics are likely to be found in the speech of a primary school child who stammers.

Repetition of whole words, e.g. 'when, when, when is playtime?

Repetition of single sounds or parts of words, e.g. 'g-g-go away!' Stretching sounds in a word, e.g. 'I like that s-s-story.'

Blocking of sounds, when the child's mouth appears ready to speak but no sound emerges for several seconds, e.g.'----I got a book.'

Stopping speaking half way through a sentence.

Tension signs in the face, e.g. around the eyes, lips, neck or nose.

You may find that as your child gets older he begins to become more self-conscious about his difficulty. He may develop his own tricks for getting out the words: an extra body movement as he tries to push out the word: e.g. stamping his feet, tapping with hands or changing position.

Sometimes a primary school child is more likely to be aware that his speech is different from the others in his class but he may not necessarily be concerned about it if he is still quite young. As he gets older he is more likely to be anxious about talking and may try to get out of situations where he has to speak.

Variability

Stammering can come and go and this may be confusing for parents and teachers who are trying to notice a child's speaking. It can change even within the same conversation and can fluctuate from mild to severe depending on the situation. It may range from part and whole word repetitions a few times a day for one child, to blocking for 3-4 seconds, accompanied by gestures like foot stamping, with facial contortions on nearly every other word, for another.

When does it begin?

The commonest time is between two and five years when the child's language development is at its peak. It can emerge gradually, but it may also begin very suddenly. It can appear to have started at later ages but this is not common.

In the Early Years many children stammer and most will have recovered with or without help by the time they start primary school. However a minority of children will continue to have difficulties even if they have had help and parents understandably worry that their child's school life will be affected by his stammering. Very occasionally for some reason the child's stammering may be identified for the first time at primary school.

Recovery from stammering

This is most likely to occur at the pre-school age, but all children are different and some go on to stammer for much longer than that. A speech and language therapist should always be consulted for advice and the class teacher provided with information from BSA-schoolchildren. Most therapists are able to work with the teacher to support the child. With support a child can maintain his confidence and manage his speech.

Parents do not cause stammering but worrying about your child's speech can make you feel anxious. If you contact the BSA:Helpline you can talk about your fears with someone who understands.


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