Learning to talk, like learning to walk, is never completely smooth and does not happen straight away. Young children often stop, pause, start again and stumble over words when they are learning to talk. Between the ages of two and five, it is normal for a child to repeat words and phrases, and hesitate with “ums” and “ers”, especially when they are thinking about what they are going to say next.
For some children learning to talk can be a bit more difficult and their words can appear to get stuck. Approximately five percent of children experience stammering while they are learning to talk. However, the majority of these children will go on to be fluent speakers. Stammering is when
- Sounds or syllables may be repeated e.g. mu mum mummy
- Sounds may be stretched out to make the word longer e.g. fffffffffffish
- A word becomes stuck and doesn’t come out at all (this can sometimes be harder to notice)
It’s not known exactly why a child stammers but evidence indicates that a combination of factors are involved. There is no evidence that parents cause stammering. However, there are lots of things that parents can do to support their child’s fluency. Please see our Top Tips video below and leaflets for some ideas.
There are certain factors which make a child more vulnerable to stammering. You may want to consider referring your child to speech and language therapy if they:
- Have been stammering for over 1 year.
- Have a stammer that has been getting worse.
- Have a family history of stammering.
- Have moments of stammering that appear to be very tense.
- Are aware or concerned about their speech.
- Give up on what they’re trying to say, or avoid speaking in certain situations.
- Have other speech, language or communication difficulties.
Strategies and approaches
There are many ways to support fluency. Watch our key top tips video for further information.
- British Stammering Association
This website provides information and resources to support children who stammer with the following section
- Action for Stammering Children
This charity and website provides information and resources to support children who stammer
- NHS Conditions
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if to refer for stammering if one or more of the following apply we recommend that you refer (however you can always contact us for advice);
- The child’s parents are very anxious or concerned about their stammer
- The child is aware/upset by their stammer
- The child’s stammer has lasted for over 1 year, and seems to be getting worse rather than improving
- The child’s stammer is significantly disrupting their flow of speech, and/or appears to be tense
- The child’s stammer is beginning to impact on their confidence/willingness to speak in certain situations.
To refer your child to receive support for Stammering please use the Children’s Therapies Service referral form.
If you have been advised to access our online training resource please watch the video for your child's age e.g. if your child is 5
Or if your child is 12 years old please watch the Over 8's workshop.