A disorder of the flow or rhythm of speech, stuttering appears during early childhood and disappears in the majority of cases during adolescence. When to worry when your child suddenly stumbles over words and how to help them stop stuttering? The answers of Elisabeth Vincent, speech therapist and vice-president of the speech-stuttering association.
The stuttering affects about 1% of the population, or about 650,000 people in France. 8% of children, or one girl for every three boys, stutter and this disorder which affects the speech generally appears at the time of the elaboration of the language. ' Stuttering is characterized by a greater number of speech accidents than in normal speech: repetitions of syllables or sounds, blockages, disproportionate lengthening of sounds. What signs stuttering is above all the behavior of effort that accompanies the production of sounds: twitching of the face or other parts of the body, averting of the gaze during blockages... As a result, parents quickly spot something unusual is happening ', explained Elizabeth Vincent, Speech Therapist , vice-president of the speech-stuttering association and author of several books on stuttering, including Helping your child to speak and communicate - 50 cards against stuttering and cluttering (Ed. Deboeck).
Stuttering arises in communicative contexts: one usually does not stutter when speaking alone or to an animal
There is no identified cause of stuttering but several predisposing factors as in particular a genetic predisposition.. ' There are also neurological particularities, both structural and above all functional. There are also factors related to the child's temperament and the impact of the environment. Speech being constructed in the relationship with the other, factors linked to the environment play an important role. This will be the main access route to effectively intervene on the disorder ', emphasizes the expert.
Child may speak without difficulty and suddenly stutter during conversation or at times '. Stuttering often appears around the age of 3-4 years in children who have previously expressed themselves without difficulty - even with particularly elaborate speech. This is a particularly intense period in the development of the child and stuttering comes to signal that he is 'overwhelmed', that he has trouble coordinating his different areas of competence (cognitive, motor, linguistic, affective).' Once serenity is restored, stuttering can stop spontaneously, which does not mean that it has completely disappeared. For some it will remain a symptom witnessing the passage by the child or the teenager of a period sufficiently upsetting to bring him back. 'Stuttering can disappear spontaneously and return later, often during key moments that induce changes in the child's life: starting school, moving... Similarly, if the stuttering mainly occurs before the age of 7, it can fade and reappear in adolescence, a period also rich in changes and stimulation ', explained Elisabeth Vincent.
Do not wait if you notice that your child is stumbling over words and is suffering. Especially since the faster it is taken care of, the easier the rehabilitation will be. 'It is important not to wait too long to consult when a stutter appears even if it may be transient. Given the greater plasticity of the brain before age 6, stuttering should not be allowed to take hold so that the brain does not form bad habits. On the other hand, the child manifests that he needs help and it is the questioning of the professional that will help to determine the nature of the support to be provided. Faced with this particularly destabilizing disorder, those around you do not know how to react and worry is not always a good advisor. The speech therapist will give the leads that will allow effective support to be put in place. ', note Elisabeth Vincent.
According to the speech-stuttering association, 80% of children who suffer from it overcome it spontaneously but for the remaining 20%, the disorder is likely to be long-lasting and the stuttering may persist with more or less intensity into adulthood.
Stuttering is not considered a learning disability as such but it can complicate learning during schooling. A student who stutters focuses on controlling his speech and in fact pays less attention to his interlocutor, which disrupts the exchanges with the teaching staff but also the other students. He then struggles to communicate and sets in the fear of not being able to express what he intended to say. Stuttering also has an impact on self-esteem and self-confidence of the child who can withdraw into himself and participate less in the life of the class.
Stuttering is recognized as a disability by the MDPH (Departmental House of Disabled People). As an adult, he can give the right to an RQTH (Recognition of the quality of disabled worker). Performed in both children and adults, the speech therapy assessment as well as the speech therapy sessions are covered at 60% by social security. The 40% can be covered by the mutual.
Once stuttering has been diagnosed, sessions with a speech therapist generally make it possible to overcome it. ' The less we let a child stutter, the more likely it is that the stuttering will go away, hence the importance of consulting - sometimes very few sessions are enough. We act by supporting the child in his words: by offering him the word when he blocks, by reformulating what he has just said, by asking him questions that are not too open... We also act by seeking to harmonize the demands made upon it at its stage of development. This care both at the level of speech and of his living environment is very effective. The current problem is the lack of professionals, it is very difficult to get an appointment with a speech therapist. The APB (Association Parole Stuttering) has made available on its website a number of very useful documents “, emphasizes Elisabeth Vincent.Source journaldesfemmes.fr