Jamie was nearly four when Kim, his mother, telephoned to ask for our help. She explained that he had started to repeat syllables and words just before his third birthday and that now she was really worried that his talking didn't seem to be getting any better. The doctor had told her not to worry because it was just a phase and he would soon grow out of it. But Kim had had a stammer herself as a child and remembered very clearly the difficulties that she had faced at school. She certainly didn't want Jamie to experience the same challenges.
Jamie's stammering was variable and although there were some good patches when his talking was quite fluent, there were also times when he became quite upset because of his difficulty with talking. We agreed with Jamie's parents that he was vulnerable to stammering, partly because of the family history, but also because it had been continuing for quite a long time and he was showing some awareness and concern.
Jamie and his parents attended the Centre for Palin Parent-Child Interaction therapy. The idea behind this is to help parents, through videotapes, to identify some of the things that they are already doing which will help their child's fluency. These are then practised at home. Over the six weeks of therapy, each parent will identify other small but important changes in their interaction with their child which they consider will help their child to become more fluent.
Kim noticed that Jamie was more fluent when he was not competing with his brother to talk at mealtimes so she decided that making sure the family took turns to speak might be helpful. David, Jamie's father, also noticed that Jamie was more fluent if he was given time to answer questions at his own pace - and not trying to hurry - so he decided to try to space out his own questions more. Both parents decided that they would like to be more consistent in managing the children's behaviour at bedtimes too.
Jamie is now at school and there is no sign of the stammering. David and Kim know that they can come back to us if anything happens which triggers the stammering again.Tips for family and friends