Parents eagerly anticipate the moment when their child first begins to talk. But for some parents, it is a time of anxiety because their child struggles to get words out. As many as five percent of preschool children nationwide have repetitions and prolongations of sounds severe enough to be of concern to their parents.
The DVD in English and Spanish, “Stuttering and Your Child: Help for Parents”, helps parents detect stuttering and take action toward helping their child and is available at most public libraries, including the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Public Library. Some libraries have an older video format.
Produced by the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation, the film describes what kinds of stuttering young children may exhibit, how parents can help at home, and the role of a speech pathologist in evaluating and treating children who stutter.
“Stuttering typically begins between the ages of two and five,” says Barry Guitar, Ph.D., professor and chair of Communication Sciences at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “It may begin gradually or suddenly, and many of these children outgrow their disfluencies naturally. However, if a child continues to stutter for several months, or appears to be frustrated by it, parents should seek assistance.”
Guitar appears in the DVD with other nationally recognized experts in stuttering: Peter Ramig, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Diane Hill, M.A., of Northwestern University, Patricia Zebrowski, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa, and Kristin Chmela, M.A., also of Northwestern University.
These experts address common concerns that parents have about their child, such as how to help the child at home and whether to seek the advice of a speech pathologist.
Strategies parents can use to help reduce stuttering are given throughout the DVD and include reducing the number of questions they ask the child, focusing on taking turns during conversations, and making time to read or talk with the child in a relaxed manner.
“Parents are relieved to discover that they are not alone and that other parents share their concerns,” says speech pathologist Kristin Chmela.
“Stuttering remains a mystery to most people,” notes Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. “Watching a young child struggle to speak can be devastating. This DVD is designed to reassure parents and families that many preschoolers stutter, that they can be helped, and how parents can play a vital role in this process.”