Why has my previously normal 4 year old started to stammer?

5% of children develop stammering (synonym: stuttering) and 80% grow out of it.  It tends to come on around the age of 3 or 4 on the background of normal language development up until that point. It seems that it occurs at the time that language acquisition becomes more complex.

Stammering is known by Speech and Language (SLT) therapists as “dysfluency” and there should be a dysfluency service in your region that your GP or paediatrician can refer you to.  My local SLT service tells me that outcomes are better if the child is seen by them within a year of the onset of the stammer.  They are keen on a parent led programme called the Lidcombe programme.  Click on the link in the name to read more about it.  Stammering persists into adulthood in about 1 in every 5 cases.

You may find the following links helpful:

The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in Islington runs intensive courses in school holidays for older children.  Tel 02033168100 www.stammeringcentre.org.

The British Stammering Association – now trading as Stamma – (https://stamma.org/) has a wealth of information, for professionals, parents and children on its website.  It also has a freephone helpline and webchat service to support anyone affected by stammering.  Helpline (freephone) 0808 802 0002, open 10:00-Noon, 18:00-20:00 hrs every weekday. Or email on help@stamma.org (contact details updated July 2020)

The Fluency Trust (http://www.thefluencytrust.org.uk) provides residential courses in activity centres for children older than 10 years with dysfluency.

City University, London, provides intensive week long courses in school holidays for those over 8 years.  Contact Bethan Lewis, tel 0207 040 8288 (http://www.city.ac.uk/health/public-clinics/compass-centre/stammering-clinic/instensive-courses-for-people-who-stammer)

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1 Response to Why has my previously normal 4 year old started to stammer?

  1. Julia Thomson says:

    I have recently been sent this updated information from Stamma:

    If your young child has begun to stammer, you’re not alone. About 8% of children stammer at some point, and while for most the symptoms soon disappear, there’s lots you can do to support your child.

    Stamma, the organisation which supports anyone affected by stammering, has put together some videos aimed at parents. “There’s lots of things you can do to support your child,” says Kirsten Howells, the speech therapist who presents the videos. “For example, a few minutes of one-on-one time every day with your child, where they aren’t competing for attention with tasks or other family members can make a real difference.”

    You can see the full set of videos at: https://stamma.org/get-support/parents. And Stamma’s Helpline and Webchat both welcome calls from parents.

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