Parents eagerly anticipate the moment when their child first begins to talk. But for some parents, it is a time of anxiety because their child struggles to get words out. As many as five percent of preschool children nationwide have repetitions and prolongations of sounds severe enough to be of concern to their parents.
The DVD in English and Spanish, "Stuttering and Your Child: Help for Parents," helps parents detect stuttering and take action toward helping their child and is available at most public libraries. Some libraries have an older video format.
Produced by the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation, the film describes what kinds of stuttering young children may exhibit, how parents can help at home, and the role of a speech pathologist in evaluating and treating children who stutter.
"Stuttering typically begins between the ages of two and five," says Barry Guitar, Ph.D., professor and chair of Communication Sciences at the University of Vermont in Burlington. "It may begin gradually or suddenly, and many of these children outgrow their disfluencies naturally. However, if a child continues to stutter for several months, or appears to be frustrated by it, parents should seek assistance."
Books and DVDs produced by the 65-year-old nonprofit Stuttering Foundation are available free to any public library. A library that will shelve them can contact the Foundation at 1-800-992-9392, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.stutteringhelp.org or www.tartarmudez.org.
7 Tips for talking with your child
1. Speak with your child in an unhurried way, pausing frequently.
2. Reduce the number of questions you ask your child.
3. Use your facial expressions and other body language to convey to your child that you are listening to the content of her message and not to how she’s talking.
4. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child.
5. Help all members of the family learn to take turns talking and listening.
6. Observe the way you interact with your child.
7. Above all, convey that you accept your child as he is.