It can be a frightening experience when parents realize that there is something different about their child’s speech. Parents want the best for their children, and when something does not appear to be “normal,” many parents begin to worry about what this will mean for their child’s future. When parents worry, they tend to envision the worst possible scenarios, rather than keeping a balance between bad outcomes (which are easy to foretell) and good outcomes (which we may be afraid to hope for). As with all things, your child is likely to have both good and bad experiences because of stuttering. It’s important not to focus only on the bad things that may—or may not—happen.
One of the NSA’s primary missions is to help parents learn that stuttering does not have to have a negative effect on their child’s life. Importantly, we have found that worried parents often forget the most basic fact about childhood stuttering: help is available. There are many resources available for helping children learn to speak more fluently, while at the same time helping them become more comfortable with their speech and more confident in their ability to communicate. Here are some basic facts to remember when you begin to feel worried about your child’s speech:
Most preschoolers do stop stuttering. Many young children exhibit disruptions in their speech when they are learning to talk, but not all of those children are at risk for continuing to stutter. In fact, the majority of children who start stuttering are simply going through a phase of normal speech development. Recent research shows that as many as 3 out of 4 children who show signs of early stuttering will recover within the first year or so after they start stuttering. Your child may or may not be one of these children, but it is important to remember that young children who stuttering (even severely) are not all destined to become adults who stutter. Even those who do, for whatever reason, continue stuttering can improve their speech and communication.
Help is available. You may have heard people say that “we don’t know what causes stuttering” or “there is no cure for stuttering.” In some sense, both statements are true; however, both statements are also misleading. Stuttering specialists and other expert clinicians do know quite a bit about the factors that are associated with the cause of stuttering, and there is a considerable effort underway in many laboratories around the world to improve our understanding of stuttering. Furthermore, effective treatments are available. While even the best speech therapists cannot guarantee success for every child they treat, we do know that the vast majority of children who stutter can improve their speech.
Stuttering does not have to ruin your child’s life. Stuttering can have a significant impact on a child’s life, but it does not have to. There are millions of people around the world who have learned to live with stuttering and lead successful and happy lives. Some of these people are famous orators like Winston Churchill, while others are “regular” people who have learned to cope with stuttering so it does not hold them back from doing what they want to do. The NSA can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your child’s treatment, but even if treatment does not completely eliminate the stuttering, there are numerous ways you can help your child to ensure that stuttering does not become a major problem in his or her life.
You are not alone. Many times parents of children who stutter feel like there is nobody who really understands what they are going through. This can lead to a feeling of isolation that further contributes to anxiety and fear about the future. That is why the NSA has an active and growing support network for parents of children who stutter. Through the NSA, you can talk with other parents who have shared the same experiences as you and you can learn about how they have dealt with their children’s stuttering.
Of course, soothing words alone will not help you overcome your concerns about your child’s speech. In the Stuttering Info section on this website, you will find key facts about stuttering and stuttering therapy that will help you make informed decisions about the best course of action for your child.