Certain factors may place some children more at risk for stuttering.
“Knowing these factors will help you decide whether or not your child needs to see a speech-language pathologist,” says Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation.
The following risk factors will help parents decide.
- Family history. Almost half of all children who stutter have a family member who stutters. The risk that your child is actually stuttering instead of just having normal disfluencies increases if that family member is still stuttering.
- Age at onset. Children who begin stuttering before age 3 1/2 are more likely to outgrow stuttering.
- Time since onset. Between 75% and 80% of all children who begin stuttering will stop within 12 to 24 months without speech therapy. If your child has been stuttering longer than 6 months, he may be less likely to outgrow it on his own.
- Gender. Girls are more likely than boys to outgrow stuttering. In fact, three to four boys continue to stutter for every girl who stutters.
- Other speech and language factors. A child who makes frequent speech errors such as substituting one sound for another or leaving sounds out of words may be at greater risk.
“If a child has any of these risk factors and is showing some or all of the warning signs, a parent should be more concerned.” notes Lisa A. Scott, Ph.D., of The Florida State University. “They may want to schedule a speech screening with a speech therapist who specializes in stuttering. The therapist will decide whether the child is stuttering, and then determine whether to wait a bit longer or begin treatment right away.”
For free information on stuttering, contact the Stuttering Foundation at 800-992-9392 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great resource: If You Think Your Child is Stuttering brochure.