The non-profit Stuttering Foundation is an excellent resource that provides information and support for parents of children who stutter. It is for that reason that I pay attention to their press releases, responding to various current events or information relating to stuttering.
Today, they issued concerns about a new Australian study on preschooler’s stuttering which they feel is sending a mixed message to parents headlined, “Preschoolers’ Suttering Not Harmful.” The Stuttering Foundation wrote:
“Headlines heralding ‘Preschoolers’ Stuttering Not Harmful’ send a mixed message to parents – one that could be troublesome for children who stutter. Our biggest concern is that parents will just see this headline, and read no further,” said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. “For decades, we have advocated that parents should gather credible information about stuttering and seek early intervention. But these headlines seem to indicate there is little cause for concern or no immediate need to seek help. In many cases, this approach is just not acceptable.”
Fraser also discussed further concerns with the new study. “The biggest problem with the data is that it stops at age four, just when one might expect to see some harmful effects from stuttering. In addition, the study includes only 142 children. It is far too early to interpret the findings because we do not know how many of these children continued to stutter and what effects it had on them and their lives.”
The Stuttering Foundation provides a practical, helpful 16 minute video titled, 7 Tips for Talking with the Child Who Stutters, in which speech-language experts give tips to adults on how they can interact with their preschool age children to promote more fluent speech. For example, “Reduce the pace,” as experts give several practical examples of how parents can slow down the pace of life around their child as well as how to slow down their own speech to model an unhurried model. It has been my experience that parents relax a bit when armed with accurate information that they can immediately apply to help their child.
“The so-called ‘wait and see’ approach, advocated by some, is an awfully bitter pill for parents to swallow when they find their child struggling to speak,” Fraser said. “Experience tells us parents want answers immediately. What we are advocating instead is ‘click and see’ – we have a new video available for free that answers many of the most frequently asked questions by parents of preschoolers.
Check out the Stuttering Foundation’s website, www.StutteringHelp.org, for lots of accurate and helpful information about stuttering.