Stuttering in Young Children
The evaluation and management of stuttering is complex and several salient issues emerge. Primarily, parents frequently express uncertainty when a child begins to stutter and are unsure whether this speech pattern represents normal development or whether it warrants intervention. And upon the diagnosis of stuttering, parents are not sure whether they should intervene immediately, or wait to see whether the stuttering resolves over time. Finally, when parents wish to initiate treatment, they cannot find a “specialist” in their geographic area.
GC was 2.5 years old and had been stuttering with “moderate-to-severe disfluencies” for 7 months according to his mother. She stated that he was advanced with “verbal expression,” but she and her husband were quite concerned. Since there were no fluency specialists (FS) in her area, she reached out to an FS in another state and to a closed listserv associated with the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Fluency and Fluency Disorders in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Through this outreach, GC’s mother connected with the author for consultation via email and telephone. As an initial step, it was recommended that the mom record GC in several speaking conditions for review. Within 1 month, several short samples were made available to determine whether a complete assessment was indicated. In addition, GC’s mother was also queried regarding his fluency. GC was an only child with an unremarkable birth and developmental history. He had one paternal uncle with a brief history of stuttering and recovery at a young age. In addition, GC’s mother reported that GC is sometimes “stubborn” and has a “reactive temperament” (e.g., he is quick to get upset and slow to calm). In addition, GC’s stuttering began just prior to his second birthday and although it varied since onset, GC’s mother reported that his speech progressively worsened (“more bumpy” in his mother’s words). GC had not received any previous therapy and was not particularly concerned by his stuttering. However, both parents expressed marked concern regarding his speech fluency.