Pre-school age awareness


I am a graduate student studying speech-langauge pathology and I am currently enrolled in a stuttering class. During class we were discussing how some pre-school aged children aren’t aware of their stutter I thought this was fascinating. It ┬ámade wonder at what age do pre-school aged children find out about their stutter and how do they usually feel about it? I am also curious about how parents felt about their child not being aware of their stutter. Did they ever try to bring it to their attention or did they want them to continue to not be aware?

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Pre-school age awareness — 2 Comments

  1. I think this may be a question where the answer lies in that every person has an individual response. Some preschoolers are aware right from day one, and may do things like avoid words, cover their mouth, respond by doing things like stomping their foot to try and “force” the word out, saying things like, “I can’t talk.” It’s important to know that preschoolers tend to be aware and react to things in the moment rather than hold onto feelings between moments (as older kids might). Some preschoolers are not aware at all. As for parents, my experience has been there is a range there as well…some parents are afraid that talkinga about stuttering will make it worse (we know this isn’t true, but the myth lives on), while others want to raise awareness. It’s important in all of these cases that parents and children have accurate information about stuttering so that the best path forward can be found for each specific case. Will look forward to hearing from others!

  2. I have witnessed a 2-year old child who started substituting words within a week of stuttering onset, as well as older children who do not seem overtly disturbed by their stuttering. As Dr. Scaler Scott says, people vary. However, when I am able to talk to both parents during referrals for early stuttering, often one either firmly mentions a child saying something like “I can’t” during a very disfluent moment, or other indicators of awareness. I do believe that many parents still think that ignoring the stuttering (or, as some phrase it, just waiting for the child to finish talking, but nothing else) is the best way to respond. I then do discuss why this may not be the best or certainly only response. If Lidcombe has taught us anything, it is certainly that paying attention to stuttering doesn’t make it “stick”, a very long-lived product of the Diagnosogenic theory’s long reach into our work with stuttering in young children. Certainly, stuttering has always been unique in this respect, since no other child behavior, either positive or perceived as unwelcome, gets this type of response from parents. When children are VERY aware, and are doing things such as “turning colors” during blocks, or “jumping up and down” as a parent just this week reported to me (both sets of parents were not acknowledging the stuttering), telling the parent it is OK to say something, such as “that looked hard to say. It’s OK, sometimes we all have trouble talking” doesn’t remove the stuttering, but it appears to help resolve these reactions during the moment of stuttering.