Differentiating Normal Speech Dysfluency From Stuttering In Children

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The concept of stuttering refers to a lack of fluency or a hesitancy of a speech pattern. The incidence is reported to be 1% worldwide with a greater incidence of males to females (3:1). Theories of causation are briefly identified including a genetic predisposition and neurological factors. In the process of acquiring speech skills, preschool children normally pass through a transitional stage of speech dysfluency. This fact may impede recognition of early stuttering behavior, can be emotionally painful for the child and may interfere with psychological development. The health care provider is in a key position to provide early diagnosis and intervention to the child who presents with early stuttering. In order to do so, the health care provider must possess the knowledge and skill to differentiate normal developmental dysfluency from early stuttering. Factors that differentiate these speech patterns are identified along with guidelines for referral. Current treatment modalities employed by speech pathologists are described. Practical interventions to offer parents in order to promote the child's speech fluency and decrease speaker anxiety are summarized.

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