Parents as Partners in Young Children's Stuttering Treatment

Re: Stuttering Families

From: Anne Bothe
Date: 10/24/00
Time: 11:42:28 AM
Remote Name:


Jim -- Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and your family's! Sounds like you are truly an example of what I tell my students all the time: Our adult clients who stutter know more about stuttering than we ever will! Interesting that you use a "stop yourself" sort of approach -- such procedures go by many different names in the stuttering treatment literature, from pull-out and cancellation in one tradition to self-adminstered time-out in an essentially contradictory tradition -- and once again a rose by any other name and all that!

Your particular question about the form of stuttered speech in young children -- I've seen everything, and our literature includes multiple examples of everything. Repetitions of sounds, syllables, words, phrases; prolongations of vooooooooiced sounds or of ssssssssssounds that do not involving voicing; blocks before, during, and after words, with or without sound and with or without other visible signs of struggle or tension -- you name it, and some preschooler has done it. The "typical" or stereotypical is the repetitions, but that's only as good as most stereotypes.

And your questions about how to handle stuttering in a grandchild when parents and grandparents both stutter -- what a complex issue this will be, for all of you. It sounds like you are well aware that your grandchildren will be relatively more likely to stutter than other children might be, but I would also remind you that there is a very good likelihood that your grandchildren will not stutter. And I'm going to go ahead and go out on a limb here and say that this might be a case where the best thing to do would be to be ready to go ahead and introduce "treatment" conditions for the grandchildren as soon as you notice any signs of stuttering -- my theory here is that there isn't going to be much reason to spend time wondering "gee, this sounds like stuttering, could this child be stuttering," given that your family history pretty much makes it clear, and then one might hypothesize that if we can early on, very early on, give the child as much help as possible in building the neural pathways for nonstuttering, instead of building the neural pathways for stuttering, then that might be a good way to go! Please realize that I am speculating out of turn, that I should have much more personal information about you and about your children and about these speculative grandchildren -- but it's just such an interesting idea. I would encourage you to seek assistance, if these grandchildren are ever born and ever do show signs of stuttering, from an SLP in your area who is known for working directly with young children who stutter. Thanks so much for your comments and questions.

Last changed: September 12, 2005