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How to deal with a stammer in 3 year old?

(8 Posts)
Trouble100 Wed 17-Aug-11 14:57:11

DD is just over 3 and has developed quite a bad stammer in the last few months. Initially it didn't seem to bother her but it has got really bad over the last 3-4 weeks to the point where she is expressing frustration, saying 'Mummy I can't say that word'. Until this point, we have been trying very hard not to react to it, not to acknowledge it and just answer her when it finally comes out as if she had said it right first time. But now she is acknowledging it, we don't know how to respond to it and to help her.

Does anyone have any experience of stammering and know how we should deal with it? We'd be really grateful for your help.

Also, at what point should we be seeking professional advice? I've read on websites that most young kids will get over a stammer without any help by the age of 5, but then I also read that the earlier you get help the higher the chances of completely getting over it. Any ideas what we should do?

annbenoli Wed 17-Aug-11 15:00:14

the best thing to do is ignore, it is normal at this age and the best thing to do is be calm, give her time to answer, dont finish sentences off for her. If she says she cant say a word just keep calm and tell her it doesnt matter o r to tell you later. It is a normal stage of language development. Of course for a small percentage of children the problem does persist so keep your eye on it.

gladders Wed 17-Aug-11 17:17:49

have no professional advice (ie am not speech therapist) but this happened to our ds.

it got very bad very quickly - was given the "don't finish his sentences for him" advice - v important i think as that adds to the frustration?

my friend (who is a speech therapist) said it was perfectly normal at that age - their brains go faster than their mouths and everything gets a bit out of synch?

with our ds, one thing that seemed to help him relax enough to get the words out was to get down to his level. When it was making him really cross tense, sometimes holding onto him (ie one hand on his belly and one on his back) seemed to help to - it encouraged him to take a deep breath and try again.

hth - think patience is the name of the game?

Trouble100 Fri 19-Aug-11 13:30:00

Thanks both for your help and reassurance. It's good to know that this is common/normal devpt and to give it time won't result in a long term problem!

Thanks also for the advice - I've tried getting down to her level and this does seem to make a difference - I think once she realises she has my full attention, she is able to relax abit and get the words out. I've also made a conscious effort to slow down my own speech - I have always spoken v. fast and that can't be helping the pressure on her to get things out.

Also spoke to the GP in the margins of a consult on other things who said that 2-3 months isn't very long to have had it and to give it more time and said all the same things as you've suggested re: not finishing sentences.

ragged Fri 19-Aug-11 13:33:42

Just listen very very patiently & in a focused but relaxed way, give him all the time in the world to speak. It's an anxiety disorder when it becomes a long term problem, so don't give any hint that there's anything to be anxious about.

potbellyqueen Fri 19-Aug-11 13:49:28

DS went through a phase of stammering about the time he turned 3, for him it seemed to be very much about keeping our attention; he'd start talking and then have so much to get out that he'd forget what he was saying, but he felt he had to keep going in case we stopped listening. We were seeing various speech therapists for DD at the time (she's deaf) so were able to ask for advice, we were told it was a perfectly normal phase and he'd grow out of it, the advice was to ignore the stammer and make sure he knows we're listening - it lasted about 3/4 months and went away on it's own.

He's 4.5 now and occasionally gets a bit ahead of himself when he's talking and will fill in the space with erms or ums but it is only occasional, and I probably wouldn't notice if I hadn't gone through a few weeks of panicking that he would have a permanent stammer.

cloudpuff Fri 19-Aug-11 14:29:30

I'd just like to second what others have said about not finishing sentences off and staying calm.

My dd started stuttering at about 3 year old too and it got bad pretty quickly, she would also have really bad facial twitches which the doctor noticed and referred her to speech therapy straight away.
She ended up in speech therapy for a short while and they said about not finishing sentances for her and also not allowing others to interupt her. It was also important for me not to allow her to interupt others while they were talking. They gave me all this info on a nice sheet to give to family etc There's a lot of kids and gobby adults in our family and I got pretty fed up of asking people not to interupt her that I ended up keeping dd away from extended family for a while and just spending time with her doing relaxing things. Its heartbreaking to watch, especially when you see other so-called adults rolling their eyes and smiling at the twitches.
DD is in y2 now and is absolutley fine, she's so confident now and gladly takes part in group discussions at school etc. I would say that if you are really worried maybe phone the health visitor or GP who will put your mind at rest.

mumsybore Fri 19-Aug-11 15:36:51

My ds developed a mild stutter just befire his 3rd birthday and it got progressivey worse over the next 6 months. Our GP referred him to a therapist and a few practical steps have pretty much eradicated his stutter We were advised that we shouldnt tell him to hurry up, finish his sentences or shout at him to just say what he's thinking or even guess what he's trying to say and definitely dont ignore him when he's trying to talk, even if it takes a long time. Instead we were told to take a calmer approach by nodding slowly and smiling as he speaks regardless of how long he takes. The therapist also advised him to sing what he is trying to say and this has really helped. Granted he always sings his words to the same song, Sex on fire by Kings of Leon but it definitley helps.
Also, although i havent seen it, the film the Kings Speech is about a King called Bertie who has a stutter and i'm told that he manges to contain it by doing tongue twisters and talking on radio shows. It sound ridiculous i know but its supposed to be very good.

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