Does your child stutter?

Stuttering: when to seek help

My 3 ½-year-old twin sons have begun stuttering. The older twin began about three months ago, and just within the past week the younger twin has started. I think the younger twin just might be copying his brother. Is this is a normal developmental stage, and what can I do to help them?

Stuttering is not uncommon in preschool children. They will often repeat a syllable, a word or an entire phrase, prolong a sound, or hesitate excessively. For the vast majority of children such dysfluency (stuttering) resolves by the age of five. To help your child, try to provide a relaxed atmosphere for speaking without trying to finish his sentence or calling attention to the problem. Be sure not to tell him to “slow down” or “relax.” Reduce the need and expectation for the child to speak to strangers, adults or authority figures. Also, reduce the situations where your child might be expected to compete with his sibling. Listen attentively to your child with patience, and without showing undue concern.

If the stuttering lasts more than a few months, if your child has anxiety about communication or if there is a family history of others who stuttered beyond the preschool period, your pediatrician should refer him to a speech-language pathologist.

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