Did…did…did…I stutter? Yep, I just did that. Just admit it. It might be a little daunting when one cannot get their words out however when it is a child then it kind of hurts your heart a little. And there is stigma to stuttering. That famous quote (Breakfast Club, The Office, etc) resonates in our ears but reversed. Alright, alright, it hurts our hearts when we hear anyone with a stutter. You can feel the frustration for that person but it becomes their norm.
Sorry for being bit brash above however my son deals with a minor stutter. He has a bilateral hearing loss and wears hearing aids in both ears. He also has some speech delays. When my son was 3 years old, almost 4, he really started to pick up on his language. He always had a lot of language, however, it wasn’t always easy for him to get it from his brain to his mouth then make it sound correct so people unknown to him can understand him. So…at one point he really started to stutter. Almost every sentence that he said was an almost unbearable stutter. It was overwhelming to me and my husband because our son was trying so hard to communicate efficiently with his peers, teachers and especially us, his parents.
This stutter was daunting. I expressed concern to his teachers who basically just told me that his brain is working faster than his mouth (which I figured) and he would likely grow out of it. And he has for the most part. Occasionally, he will say the first word or words of his sentence maybe 2 to 3 times before saying his full sentence.
The worst part of it was when he started to notice. He was upset and became frustrated when he could not get his words out. It was heartbreaking! Heartbreaking. We made sure he understood that the words in his mouth just needed to catch up to the thoughts in his head. Our initial reaction was to tell him to slow down or calm down however these were not correct reactions. His speech therapists were able to guide us and help him.
As I mentioned above, he has not overcome his stutter completely. He still sometimes repeats the beginning part of a sentence. It upsets me more than him now, however, I accept him and how he speaks. I do not believe he will always stutter like this. It is only occasional and it will just take some time to defeat. In our day to day of rushing around, getting to school on time, grocery shopping…it is difficult for me to slow down and listen which is exactly what he needs in order to get his words out sometimes however I try to make sure he knows that what he wants to say IS important and I WANT to listen, hear him.
Mamas, our children are so strong and resilient. If you have a child with special needs, embrace it. Find ways and people to help where you do not have the expertise and learn from them. We only want the best for our children and there are plenty of resources especially where it entails making sure your child receives the help they need to thrive.
Here is some helpful information for Overcoming a Stutter:
Many people may not be aware that speech and language are different. Speech refers to the actual sound of spoken language. Language refers to a whole system of words and symbols such as written, spoken or expressed with gestures as well as body language, that is used to communicate meaning.
Below are 7 Tips for Talking with Your Child (referenced from Stuttering Foundation of America)
- Speak with your child in an unhurried way. Do NOT criticize or say “slow down” or “try it again slowly.”
- Reduce the number of questions you ask your child. Children speak more freely when they are expressing their own ideas.
- Use facial expressions and other body language to show your child you are listening to what they are saying, not how they are saying it.
- Set aside a time each day to give your child undivided attention. This can be a confidence time for your children.
- Help all members of your family learn to take turns talking and listening.
- Observe the way you interact with your child. Try to decrease criticisms, rapid speech patterns, interruptions and questions.
- Accept your child as they are and make sure they truly know it. Always support your child.
The below books and websites were very helpful in my search to help and understand my child’s stutter.
If Your Child Stutters – A Guide for Parents
Stuttering and Your Child – Questions and Answers
A Boy and a Jaguar – by Alan Rabinowitz & Catia Chien (Wonderful book about a boy who stutters, however, can speak to animals fluently)
**I am not an expert in speech and language nor am I a speech therapist, however, these are my own experiences with my son from early speaking days to his current age of 7 and what I learned along the way. Speak to your child’s doctor if you have questions about their development.