(This brochure produced by the Stuttering Foundation of America, was compiled by Dr. Barry Guitar, University of Vermont and Dr. Edward Conture, Syracuse University and may be downloaded for individual use provided credit is given to the Stuttering Foundation of America)

If your child has difficulty speaking and tends to hesitate on or 
repeat certain syllables, words, or phrases, he may have a speech 
disfluency or stuttering problem. But he simply may be going through 
periods of normal disfluency that most children experience as they 
learn to speak.  This pamphlet will help you understand the 
difference between stuttering and normal language development.

The normally disfluent child

1. The normally disfluent child occasionally repeats syllables or 
    words once or twice, li-li-like this. Disfluencies may also 
    include hesitancies and the use of fillers such as "uh", "er", "um".
2. Disfluencies occur most often between ages one and one-half 
    and five years, and they tend to come and go.

   They are usually signs that a child is learning to use language in 
new ways. If disfluencies disappear for several weeks, then return, 
the child may just be going through another state of learning.

The child with milder stuttering

1. A child with milder stuttering repeats sounds more than twice,
    li-li-li-li-like this. Tension and struggle may be evident in the
    facial muscles, especially around the mouth.
2. The pitch of the voice may rise with repetitions, and 
    occasionally the child will experience a "block" - no airflow or
    voice for several seconds.
3. Try to model slow and relaxed speech when talking with your 
    child, and encourage other family members to do the same.
    Don't speak so slowly that it sounds abnormal, but keep it
    unhurried, with many pauses. Television's Mr. Rogers is a good
    example of this style of speech.
4. Slow and relaxed speech can be the most effective when
    combined with some time each day for the child to have one
    parent's undivided attention. A few minutes can be set aside at 
    a regular time when you are doing nothing else but listening to 
    your child talk about whatever is on his mind.
5. When your child talks to you or asks you a question, try to
    PAUSE a second or so before you answer. This will help make
    talking to your child less hurried, more relaxed.
6. Try not to be upset or annoyed when stuttering increases. Your
    child is doing his best, as he copes with learning many new
    skills all at the same time. Your patient, accepting attitude 
    will help him immensely.
7. Effortless repetitions or prolongations of sounds are the 
    healthiest form of stuttering. Anything that helps your child
    stutter like this instead of stuttering tensely or avoiding words
    is helping.
8. If your child is frustrated or upset at times when his stuttering
    is worse, give him reassurance. Some children respond well to
    hearing, "I know it's hard to talk at times.....but lots of 
    people get stuck on's okay." Other children are most 
    reassured by a touch or a hug when they seem frustrated.
9. Disfluencies may come and go but are now present more often
    than absent.

The child with more severe stuttering

1. If your child stutters on more than 10% of his speech, stutters
    with considerable effort and tension, or avoids stuttering by 
    changing words and using extra sounds to get started, he needs
    speech therapy. Complete blocks of speech are more common 
    than repetitions or prolongations. Disfluencies tend to be 
    present in most speaking situations now.
2. Seek out a speech and language pathologist who has a 
    Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-
    Language-Hearing Association. You may contact the Stuttering
    Foundation of America at 1-800-992-9392. They will try to
    provide you with the name of a speech-language pathologist, or
    you may contact a nearby university or hospital clinic for 
    referral assistance.
3. The suggestions for parents of a child with mild stuttering are
    also appropriate when the child has a severe problem. Try to
    remember that slowing and relaxing your own speaking style
    is far more helpful than telling the child to slow down.
4. Encourage your child to talk to you about his stuttering. Show
    patience and acceptance as you discuss it. Overcoming 
    stuttering is more a matter of losing fear of stuttering than a
    matter of trying harder.

Tips for talking with your child

1. Use a relatively slow, relaxed rate in your own conversational
    speech - but not so slow as to sound unnatural. Try to sound 
    like Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
2. Listen to what the child is saying. Respond to that, rather than
    the stuttering.
3. Give appropriate responses to what your child is saying such as
    head nods, smiles, and "uh-huhs."
4. Keep natural eye contact when the child is taking.
5. Don't rush the child by interrupting or finishing words for him.
    Don't let others rush or tease the child.