Parents of children who stammer

Speech factors



Parents often tell us that it seems like their child's brain is going faster than their mouth. Speech and language skills develop differently for all children and this can contribute to a breakdown in the child's fluency.

Speech factors

As was mentioned earlier, stammering generally emerges at a time when a child's language system is developing rapidly. It has been suggested that this dramatic increase in language skills may overload the fluency system and supports the remark frequently made by parents that "his brain is going faster than his mouth".

There does seem to be quite a lot of evidence linking children's speech and language development to stammering. In fact, some researchers are fairly convinced that there may be an underlying speech or language problem which has been masked or hidden by the time the stammering starts.

Like all factors in stammering, this doesn't seem to be the case for all children. Some are a bit slower in their talking while others seem to be very advanced. The researchers will have to explain that more clearly!

However, one thing that we do notice in the clinic is that when children try to use complicated language, they will often stammer more. Also when they are being asked to explain things, or are excited about retelling some story, perhaps trying to go quickly - then the fluency can break down.

Fluency seems to break down more frequently on longer words and in more complicated sentences. It is more likely to occur at the beginning of a sentence or phrase and with less familiar words.

English as an additional language
Over half the world's population is estimated to be bilingual and about 5% of children start to stammer. Lots of children who stammer will therefore be learning to speak more than one language. However, being bilingual does not cause stammering and lots of children learn two languages and don't stammer. For some children, learning two languages at once can be difficult to manage and may impact on their fluency. For advice on how to support your bilingual child who stammers click here.