T. Berry Brazelton's New York Times Syndicated column, May 1997


I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter who started stuttering about a year ago. I am a 36 year old male twin, and my brother and I have stuttered since we were 7. I try hard not to stutter in front of my daughter, but I do. I don't know if she is copying me or not. I don't want my daughter to grow up like I did - with all the laughing and jokes people make. I don't know where to turn for help.


The Texas Children's Hospital in Houston must have speech therapists who understand a "disfluency" like stuttering and can help your daughter. Most children go through a period of stuttering as they learn to talk - usually in the third year. Their minds get ahead of their ability to produce what they want to say. Stuttering and stammering are normal symptoms at this age. But, because it has been such a painful issue for you, you may have over-reacted and reinforced this behavior in your daughter. If someone in the family reacts to it every time she stutters, she may not give up this symptom. It must be very hard for you to wait for her and not try to correct or help her. I doubt that she is copying you, but I do suspect that she my be sensing how worried you are about her. Prolonged stuttering is usually a symptom of being under pressure - either internal (such as being in a hurry) or external pressure. I would urge you not to react to her stuttering and to reduce any other pressures on her, such as teaching her to read or to spell.

added May 16, 1997