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  • Columbia Speech and Language Services Inc. Vancouver BC.Canada
  • Columbia Speech and Language Services Inc. Vancouver BC.Canada
  • Columbia Speech and Language Services Inc. Vancouver BC.Canada
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Frequently Asked Questions

Stuttering-Frequently Asked Questions

Regarding Children Who Stutter

Q: My four-year-old daughter has recently started stuttering. I've heard that all kids do this around this age. Should I consult a speech pathologist?

A: Maybe. It is true that many (but, by no means all) children go through a normal phase of "dysfluency" (stuttering) around ages two to four for a few weeks or so. However, this is also a very common age for true and persistent stuttering to begin. You know your child best. If she seems to struggle with her speech, is self-conscious about it, is getting teased, or if you find that her speech is interfering with your relationship or with any of her activities, we advise you to have your child seen by a speech-language pathologist. Or, if your daughter has relatives who stutter, or if she has been stuttering for six months or more, we suggest you see a speech pathologist. Your speech-language pathologist will be able to give you advice about how to deal with your child's stuttering, or to reassure you if there is no need for concern.

Q: I am reluctant to bring my preschool child in to see a speech pathologist because I've heard that focusing attention on a child's stuttering can make it worse. Is this true?

A: It is true that it is not helpful to focus attention on a child's speech in a negative way; however, your speech-language pathologist will teach you positive techniques to help your child. If your child is very young, we will teach you to change your own speaking style in specific ways that are known to help children who stutter, rather than teaching the child directly.

Q: Won't my child "grow out of it" on his own?

A: Maybe. Studies find that many children will indeed grow out of stuttering by their early teen years. However, a substantial minority of youngsters (up to around 30%) will continue to stutter into their adulthood. Children more likely to continue stuttering are: boys, those with a relative who stutters, and those who have been stuttering for six months or longer. We advise parents to seek help from a speech-language pathologist if their children seem adversely affected by their stuttering - for example, if they are teased or reluctant to speak out in class.

Q: Can my child receive the treatment he needs through his school district speech-language pathologist?

A: Possibly. In many schools, however, it is not possible for the speech-language pathologists to provide the type of intensive treatment required by some children. We encourage you to call your school-based speech-language pathologist to discuss available services.

Regarding Adults Who Stutter

Q: I want to take stuttering treatment individually, rather than in an intensive group program, because I'm not comfortable speaking in groups. Why do you encourage people to take a group program?

A: Studies have consistently shown group treatment to be more effective than individual treatment for adults who stutter. People tend to control their speech better after group treatment in an intensive program (i.e. many hours in a short period of time) that focuses on long-term maintenance and daily speech exercises. If you do not feel ready for this approach, we can recommend speech-language pathologists who are skilled in counseling or in other approaches to supporting people who stutter.

Q: I really want to take the stuttering treatment program, but I'm going to have to miss part of it because of a scheduling conflict. Is this okay?

A: You really won't get the best benefit from the program unless you can commit to being there the entire time. Your absence may also be disruptive to other group members. You may be able to make up a minimal amount of lost time for a medical appointment.

Q: My stuttering is pretty mild. (Or, I don't stutter all the time.) Do I need an intensive program or can I benefit from just a few sessions?

A: Generally speaking, it is not the case that people only need a "bit" of treatment if they only stutter a "bit." In fact, we find that people who stutter more severely often respond more quickly to treatment than people with milder stuttering.

Q: I took stuttering treatment for years as a child. How will this adult treatment be different?

A: Chances are, your childhood treatment was not intensive and was not delivered in a group. Or maybe it was, and you - as a youngster - attended only to get out of class or to please your parents. You are now at a different point in your life, and can choose to commit to treatment in a way that you probably didn't when you were younger.

Q: I am 65 years old and have been stuttering all of my life. Am I too old to benefit from treatment?

A: No. You can never be too old to benefit from stuttering treatment.

Q: Do you provide a guarantee that my stuttering will improve/go away once I've taken this clinic?

A: No. Not only would such a guarantee contravene our code of ethics, it also wouldn't be consistent with our experience. We find that, while most adults who stutter benefit significantly from the clinic, almost all require follow-up and a maintenance program in order to maintain their gains. While we would love to tell you that our clients simply stop stuttering after our clinic, it isn't the case. Rather, we counsel people to view treatment as a means to learn techniques to help them control their fluency. Long-term benefit requires long-term hard work from our clients and regular follow-up from us. Rest assured, however, that we do collect outcome data on our clients for a full five years; we are happy with the long-term outcome for most of our clients.

For more information on stuttering, see our pages for stuttering programs for Children and Teens, for Adults, or Funding Information.

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