Speech and language therapy

Today’s contributing article is by Yasmine Darwish Shamseddine who is a Speech and Language Therapist. She will be sharing her advice on how to raise the awareness on key symptoms to know when to seek the help of a speech and language therapist for a child.

It is becoming more and more frequent, appearing at an early age, in both girls and boys, mono or multilingual.

Stuttering is a speech disorder, affecting the flow of it: the child either repeats (extends) the sound involuntary, whether it is in the beginning-middle or end of the word; a repetition of a word in  sentences can also be observed. In other cases, we notice motor gestures involved: the child’s neck muscles, or hands or even feet can get contracted; as a way to “ bring out “ the word out of his/her mouth.

Between the age of 2 and 3 years, children usually see their language skills explode:

  • Their vocabulary storage increase in all categories: verbs,nouns,adjectives, adverbs, etc.
  • Their sentences are more informative
  • Their ideas get more complex and imaginative
  • Their abilities to use several languages solidify

Many cases of “expected”  stuttering are observed around this phase of the linguistic boost, familiarly explained by the fact that ideas run faster than words, therefore the child stumbles.

Triggers to this dysfluency can also be psychological: any negative (or even positive! Yes positive can be overwhelming) change or circumstances evolving around the child’s would lead to stuttering. Why? Simply because the child can not express his/her anxiety through detailed sentences; it is easier to show it in the “how” he/she says it.

So when to seek the help of a speech and language therapist? It depends on every child and the parents’ anxiety: here are some points that should be an indicator to consult a therapist.

  • Any stuttering that lasts for more than 6 months
  • Any hereditary stuttering
  • Any stuttering observed along other speech or language delays
  • Any stuttering that leads to an altered self-esteem of the child

Therapies do not always mean sessions with the child, therapies can start with parental guidance sessions at first before implementing individual objectives with the child. These are based on different approaches, related to the type of stuttering and the age of the patient, let us mention some:

  • Role taking, or more commonly known as “ let’s pretend”
  • Breathing exercises in order to control one’s speech rate: sometimes the child’s amount of oxygen is way less than the amount of CO2 exhaled, the child feels he/she is out of breath.
  • Reading and singing: you might notice that by using these 2 means, the child does not stutter.
  • Setting new “ do’s and don’ts” at home and at school, in order to boost the child’s self-esteem and will to communicate, no matter what.  

Ending this article on the fact that every single one of us went through a phase of stuttering, young or old, just remember how many times, while talking we say “uhh” or “ummm”.. Yep this is one form of “ stuttering”.