You may hear this being referred to as stuttering, dysfluency, bumpy talking or getting stuck.  Stammering is when a person:

  • Repeats the whole word ‘but-but-but’
  • Repeats the sound ‘b-b-b-ut’ or part of the word ‘bu-bu-bu-but’
  • Blocks – they are visibly trying to speak but no sound comes out.
  • Prolongs sounds – stretches the sound e.g. ‘Muuuuumy’

Your child may have some or all of the above types of stammer.  They may also show some behaviours associated with their stammer e.g. blinking, facial tension, nodding their head or tapping their leg as they try to force the word out.  They may also take a sharp breath before speaking, use a lead in word or phrase or use lots of fillers e.g. ‘um’ ‘err’ when talking.

Why do some children stammer?

It is not known why some children stammer, but there are a number of different factors that impact on a child’s ability to talk fluently.  It is common for young children, especially between the ages of 2 and 5 to experience disruptions to their talking.  When they are learning to talk and their vocabulary is increasing, they may experience hesitancies, disruptions and repetitions when talking.  This may be more apparent when they are tired or excited.  This often comes and goes and for many children will disappear as their language develops.

Stammering can develop gradually or come on suddenly and it can fluctuate over time or remain constant.  For some children stammering will be persistent and they may need therapy.  Approximately, 1% of children who stammer go on to stammer into adulthood.

When to seek help?

We would advise that you refer your child for assessment if any of the following apply:

  • You are very anxious or concerned about your child’s stammer
  • Your child is aware and upset by their stammer
  • The stammer seems to be getting worse
  • The stammer is significantly disrupting their flow of speech
  • It is impacting on their confidence and they are avoiding speaking in certain situations
  • There is a strong family history of stammering- a sibling, parent or grandparent stammers as an adult.

Peer support groups and communities

Meeting with other children and/or parents can be really beneficial.  Some groups focus on peer support and/or offer opportunities to work on speech or self-confidence. Some national groups are: