THE PEDIATRICIANS AND FAMILY PHYSICIANS (continued...)
onset of stuttering is typically during the period of intense speech
and language development as the child is progressing from two word
utterances to the use of complex sentences, generally between the
ages of 2 to 5 but sometimes as early as 18 months. The child’s
efforts at learning to talk and the normal stressors of growing
up may be the immediate precipitance of the brief repetitions, hesitations,
and sound prolongations that characterize early stuttering as well
as normal disfluency. These first signs of stuttering gradually
diminish and then disappear in most children, but some children
continue to stutter. In fact, they may begin to exhibit longer and
more physically tense speech behaviors as they respond to their
speaking difficulties with embarrassment, fear, or frustration.
If referral to a speech language pathologist (preferably who specializes
in childhood stuttering) for parent counseling and treatment is
made before the child has developed a serious social and emotional
response to stuttering, prognosis for recovery is good.
physician is often the first professional to whom a parent
turns for help. Knowing the difference between normal developmental
speech disfluency and potentially chronic stuttering enables
the physician to advise parents and refer when appropriate.
Early intervention for stuttering—which may range from
parent counseling and indirect treatment to direct instruction—can
be a major factor in preventing a life-long problem.
Data from several treatment programs indicate substantial
recovery if treatment is initiated in the preschool years.
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