Parent Q&A

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  • Advice for 11 year old who stutters.

    (2 replies)

    My 11 year old daughter stutters, my husband (who also had a stutter as a middle schooler) and I would like to have her evaluated but we’re not sure if we should try to request this through BUSD or just go through our insurer (Kaiser). Though from what I can glean from Kaiser’s website they may only cover speech therapy if it’s part of recovery from a stroke or injury, not sure if they treat developmental stuttering.

    For some background: she stuttered occasionally as a younger kid (preschool), but has gone through periods of fluent speech. Over the past couple years the stutter has become more frequent. We’ve noticed she’s beginning to talk very fast to try to avoid it, but many times that just makes her harder to understand.

    The stuttering hasn’t seemed to cause her any difficulty academically or socially- we’ve mentioned the stutter to her 4th and 5th grade teachers during the annual conferences and both were not aware she had the issue, plus she’s quite talkative even when she encounters a block. She doesn’t seem to be teased about it by other kids, but since she’ll be going to middle school in the fall we thought it might be a good idea to get her some support to help decrease the tension and struggle when she stutters, learn some effective communication skills and gain some confidence with her speech as she enters a notoriously self-conscious age.

    Can anyone who has a older elementary or middle school kid who has navigated this either through their school district or a private therapist offer us advice? Have any speech language pathologist and speech therapist recommendations? Know of any fun theater or improv classes for tweens that might help with speaking in general? Thanks in advance for any recommendations and advice!

    I have a 13 yo who stutters, and has received services both through his old public elementary school and Kaiser (during summers). Kaiser does treat developmental stuttering, assuming you meet the therapeutic criteria. If you pursue an evaluation, you first need a referral from your pediatrician. However, my advice is that if she doesn't want to do speech therapy, it won't work. There is homework; kids have to be motivated. Your note didn't say anything about her stutter bothering *her* - so I really wouldn't make it a big deal. And in our experience, there's an incredibly high bar to speech therapy services in public school (which our child didn't meet the first year he was evaluated and subsequently did), sounds like there's a good chance she wouldn't qualify. Kaiser has a slightly less high bar but still it has to be pretty darn impeding. In short, if it's not causing academic or social problems for her, given her age I think you risk making the situation worse (ie., she will just stop talking to get you off her back).

    Hello - I identify with what you're experiencing. Our son started to stutter in 2nd grade. His teacher didn't notice, so it was mild. We got referred to the school speech therapist who did notice it slightly when talking to our son. He had us record our son during normal family interactions, and he was able to identify many kinds of "bumps" in our son's speech. We were given some exercises to follow (which helped but are for elementary aged kids), and the therapist and my son met a couple of times. Ultimately the school decided that the stutter was too mild to justify talking the child out of class to work on it. 

    We did try Kaiser. It was awful. They charged us a boatload of money for a 45 minute conversation. The therapist noticed both the stuttering and the coping mechanisms that our son had developed for himself.  They weren't keen to help, since he's so high functioning. Our insurance didn't cover it either.

    We basically hit dead ends at school and with Kaiser. We tried every year with the schools to get intervention, but no teachers noticed the stutter. 

    Our son is going to HS in the fall. He continues to stutter, it continues to be mild, and he continues to use his invented coping mechanisms. Most people wouldn't notice it, but it's there.

    I suggest speaking to the middle school counselor before school lets out to learn what help they can provide in the fall, so you can get the ball rolling right away. Best wishes!!

  • Stuttering - 29 month old

    (7 replies)


    My son, now 29 months old started stuttering at 26 months.  Prior to that time, he was speaking using 4-5 word sentences at times.  Although he was a late bloomer for language development, after 20 months his language skills exploded. Now his stuttering is so bad on some days that he has facial tension or a tremendous amount of tongue movement trying to get words out.  It's painful to see.

    My brother in law had a stuttering issue up until 25 years of age. 

    Anyone with a positive outcome despite a family history? If so, what treatments, if any, did you obtain for your child?

    Hi there.

    My niece started stuttering at about 4 years. She worked with a specialist on it and it has now completely gone away.

    My son began stuttering around the same age.  I talked with my pediatrician and we agreed just to keep an eye on the problem.  I emailed my son's "village," the folks he sees regularly, and asked them not to comment on the stuttering and to patiently listen to him.  I think that really helped because it didn't become a big deal and he never seemed to realize he was doing it.  It got better around 2.5 and then bad again right after he turned 3.  Then it vanished and has not returned.  (He's now 7.)  Best of luck!

    Hi there,

    We had a similar issue - no family history of stuttering but all of a sudden, my son could barely talk and it seemed like he was spitting the words out.  He was a late bloomer with speech as well (in part bc of low tone around his mouth that has resolved itself over time) but was doing great until then.  It was very painful to witness and I remember turning away from him in a few moments so he didn't see the tears in my eyes!  At the time I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of friends.  Stuttering is VERY common at that age and can come and go as their bodies and brains work so hard to develop is so many different ways.  While we privately worried about it, we didn't make ANY issue of it all to him, didn't spend a lot of time correcting him or noticing it.  We asked family members not to point it out or discuss it in front of him.  It went away over time.  It resurfaces (though not as severely and infrequently) from time to time.  (We just moved to Berkeley and I hear him struggling a bit with his words now. Not coincidentally, the stuttering presented, I think, in connection my pregnancy with our third - my son is our second child).

    I think no huge need for alarm. There are good resources online for some techniques to handle it, but I think the big one for now is to let it be, wait and see.  Again, no family history in our family and this is of course just our own experience.  Good luck!!!


    Sometimes children whose brain development is much quicker than their motor skill development  develop speech disorders.

    It's a lot more common in children than one might think. I've read somewhere that 20% of children have it at some point and the overwhelming majority lose it within a year. My daughter had it when she was around 2 years and I remember the advice that I got was to be completely relaxed. Not to finish her sentences. Give her the impression that I have all the time in the world for her, and always react to what she said and not how she said it. I also remember that they said it came in waves.

    If your child seems distressed then see your pediatrician for help. They will surely know who you can turn to for professional help. 

    I believe that in our daughter's case it took a year but her stuttering disappeared.

    My two younger boys were stutters and they both outgrew it. The older of the two had a really bad stutter starting when he was 28 months old that went on for a little more than a year. He went from being completely understandable to completely incomprehensible in about 2 days. It was crazy. We talked to a couple of speech pathologists who told us that stuttering is like a fine motor skill and their thoughts outstrip their ability to say them. Then they get all wrapped up in doing it perfectly and just can't say anything. They told us we needed to slow down life (not easy with 3 kids, including a newborn, and two full time jobs!) so he didn't feel rushed. We were also told to never bring up his stutter with him and to never complete what he was trying to say. So gone were the days of, "Come on, come on, come on! We need to get out of the house right now!!!!!" and we went to a much more laid back life where if we were a few minutes late it didn't matter. We would sit there patiently while he sent a full minute to say, "I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I saw a d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-dog" and then we would repeat back, "oh, you saw a dog?" I took extra vacation time a few hours at a time to hang out with him or to run errands on my own so I didn't have to drag the kids along. We worked hard to make life easier and mellower. Over time, he started speaking more clearly and the stutter largely went away after about a year, though for maybe a year or two after that if he was tired or got stressed, it came back. But then it wasn't nearly as bad as before, just tripping over words 3 or 4 times before he could say them properly.

    The younger got a stutter when my work situation changed. We followed the same steps -- slowing down life and waiting patiently for him to finish everything he said -- and it went away in a few months. Though his was never as bad as his older brother's. We think that his situation it was caused by stress so we tried to make his life less stressful too.

    There is a game you can get where the point is to do everything slowly. We never got it but if your son likes games, it might be something to look in to. (Can't remember the name but I think you can get it from the Stuttering Society or whatever it is called. They also have some good books.) 

    Is he seeing a speech therapist?  Our kid didn't have stuttering issues, but had an expressive speech delay and we saw tremendous improvement in only 6 months of speech therapy.  I would definitely recommend getting him professionally evaluated if you haven't already!


    My son developed a stutter at about 2.5 years old.  It only lasted a couple of months.  His father had a childhood stutter, so I wasn't surprised when my son started stuttering.  They both are big talkers and it seemed like my son had the same issue his father remembered having: his thoughts were moving faster than his ability to get them out.  What did surprise me is what worked/didn't work to improve my son's stutter.  The common recommendations to: wait the stutter out, not complete the sentence, and not bring up the stutter with the child did not work at all for my son.  He would get stuck on a word and while I patiently waited it out like it was no big deal, he would get more and more frustrated.  As the stutter went on he would struggle, cover his mouth, and even cry.  What did work for us was to tell him to stop and take a breath. It was my husband's idea because that is what he remembered his family telling him to do when he was little.  I was skeptical because it went against the recommendations.  But sure enough, encouraging my son to stop for a moment and take a breath gave him a chance to re-group and catch up with his thoughts.  Then he'd start over and the sentence would come out normally. After a few weeks of doing that, the stutter disappeared.  In closing, I would suggest following the common recommendations, but if they aren't working, you shouldn't be afraid to try other ways of helping your child. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Toddlers & Preschoolers

2.5 Year Old's Stutter

Jan 2009

My little boy is 2.5 and has been talking for some time. He speaks in sentances and his vocabulary is pretty good for his age. My concern is that he stutters. It seems like he stutters the most when he's excited or when he's trying to say a particularly long sentance. It's like his brain works faster than his mouth. I'm just wondering if he's still too young to be concerned. My husband thinks that it's just a developmental phase he's going through and that we should enjoy it for now (it is cute sometimes!) but I, being his mother, am a little worried. Anybody have any experience with this? Thanks concerned mom

Our son did the same. It passed after a few weeks, came back, passed again....Apparently this is pretty normal right before a big jump in linguistic skill. In our son's case, it was the use of pronouns that developed quite suddenly right after he stopped stuttering the first time. mom of an on-and-off stutterer

You should see a speech specialist as early as possible. The earlier you intervene with a speech problem the easier it is to deal with. If you wait until your child is experiencing frustration and rejection from being unable to speak properly, you just contribute to the problem. There's a great children's speech clinic at the Scottish Rite temple in Oakland. It's free- - it's a Masons' charity. senyax

It might be appropriate to seek out an evaluation by a speech therapist if your little one becomes frustrated by the disfluency. That is really the marker for when you need to seek out help vs. it is just a phase. It is normal at some stage of language development to be disfluent sometimes, but not all of the time, and it it is causing undue frustration, then it is appropriate to seek out an evaluation.

Check out The Stuttering Foundation is a well respected organization that might offer some help. You may qualify for a free evaluation through the school district where you live. Otherwise, you can investigate private therapists. Take a look at my Web site. I provide speech therapy in the home. Kirsten

Hi, My son stuttered when he was in his twos. He was thinking faster than he could speak. We were told that the best thing we could do for him was to not finish sentences for him. It was really hard and painful to let him finish his sentences, but we did and he outgrew the stuttering. He is now 20 and thriving in college. Hope this helps, Jamie

How to deal with 2.9 year old's disfluency/stuttering?

Jan 2009

Hello, I am the father of a 2.9 yr old son. This is my first post and I would like to get some advice/opinion on my son's disfluency.

He was talking very well for his age when we has 2. He was pretty much talking all the time and even visitors were able to understand what he was trying to say. It all changed one day when we had some friends at our house and we noticed him struggling on a few words here and there.

Both my wife and I noticed it but didn't take it serious. In the next couple of days there was drastic change and he was struggling to pronounce each and every word. In a day or two after that he himself realized that he is having difficulties and started avoiding a lot of words. When it reached a peak within a week he even felt like plucking words out of his mouth.

Then it started subsiding for a week, stayed like that for a few days and then it started getting worse again. There was no definite pattern, but it has been going up and down since then. Some days are really bad and some days are a lot better. On a scale of 1-10, he has shown variations from 2 through 9.

We have seen speech therapists @ Stanfords, the children health council and they observed some level of disfluency. Some times they say it is mild stuttering and some times they said it is disfluency. They also observed that he has a very rich vocabulary and tries to express everything in words which could cause his stumbling.

We understand that kids could develop stuttering between 2&3 and most of them outgrow it themselves, but we are concerned that it has been persisting for 9 months now. On an age adjusted speech scale his current level is below than his level when he was 2.

We have tried to observe anything that could cause this variation. We looked at his diet, social events, environment, mood, days of the month etc and couldn't establish any pattern as to what makes it worse for him.

Has anyone gone through this who knows how to get him out of this. We are doing all that is recommended by the therapists in terms of talking to him and giving attention to him.

We are looking for someone to share their experience in this issue.

Good Father

My oldest developed a terrible (to me) stuttering problem when he was just over 2. He had always been very verbal and had a great vocabulary. Then, it was as if his mouth couldn't keep up with his thoughts and he started stuttering. It was most concerning when I saw him start to shut down and just not even try to talk because it was too difficult.

I talked to everybody, read what I could find, and even scheduled a review at the East Bay Regional Center (they will provide free speech therapy if the child is far enough behind). In the meantime, I tried not to make a big deal of it and intentionally slowed down my speech.

By the time our appointment time arrived a couple of months later, he had stopped stuttering! Really, it just went away. He still has a bit of a lazy tongue, but I had him evaluated again when it was time for Kindergarten. Again, they said he just needed to work on a few sounds, but that he was just fine. He's in first grade now and speaks very clearly.

So - relax, slow down, and try not to stress (you or him). If it's still happening in 6 months, have him evaluated for speech therapy. Been there

I really feel for you. My daughter started doing this overnight and really had trouble finishing a sentence. Some of the best advice I got is not to say anything to your child or in front of your child about it, not to act like it's a big deal at all. What's a normal developmental stage can become more emphasized and ingrained if the parents freak out. Even if you freaked out before, just move forward. This is similar to anything that gets a rise out of the parents like bad behavior. And believe me, it's hard, because i was freaked out too! My second thought is rather than saying, it's been going on continuously for nine months, is it possible to look for patterns within that time, the ebbs and flows. You did say that it comes and goes a bit? This is key, my pediatrician said, because if it's not constant, than it's usually that a child is reordering information and learning to process and communicate in a more sophisticated way and to do that they stutter and placehold. It's seems basic to our ears but what's going on for them is not simple, as they are integrating all the new words and rules (and sometimes multiple languages). I hope this helps. You are certainly in the realm of normal development. you may want to get a second opinion if this is persists consistently, but in the meantime look for patterns. Also, stress can bring about stuttering among other things. Our daughter had one of her worst bouts when she began preschool. If it's possible to remove some stressors this issue may taper off. anon

It's a fact that speech dysfluencies are more common in boys. My now 5.5 year old experienced dysfluencies at preschool when he was about 3. Fortunately, we were in preschool in El Sobrante at the time and our preschool teacher referred us to Cameron School in El Cerrito. Because we were in the district (West Contra Costa County) we began receiving services there 2 days per week. My son attended ''speech class'' with a wonderful teacher who really got him to understand when he was using ''bumpy'' speech. She taught him how to use ''slow speech'' and to stop and think about what he was going to say before opening his mouth. Magnificent program! Thank God for the services available to us through public schools! Now we're in Kindergarten in a new school district and we've continued with the ''speech therapy'' 2 times per month. Again, all part of the public school system. Obviously this is a very shortened version of the situation, but I definitely recommend a speech therapists at the preschool and elementary level public schools. Your preschool teacher should be able to refer you. At any rate, phone Cameron School in El Cerrito and get some advice from people working with kids in the schools. I can't thank them enough for their help. Now we have tools with which we can help our son to slow down his speeking. I always felt that his thoughts were coming so fast, he couldn't make his mouth form the words quickly enough. My son also, very high vocabulary at age 3 and great comprehension. soreya

While I understand that parents do not want their children to grow up to be stutterers, the fact is that many of us are. Believe me it is not the end of the world. I have stuttered my whole life and am a successful happy well-rounded individual! Did you know that Joe Biden has battled with stuttering his whole life? It is good that you are so concerned to help your child NOT be a stutterer, but please keep in mind that perhaps the best thing you can do is to let your child see that he is OK whether he stutters or not. Yes, it does present unique challenges in life, but tell me what doesn't present challenges? It is a rather annoying behavior for one to deal with, but it is not a handicap, an illness, nor is it the end of the world. We stutterers DO go on and live normal happy lives! middle-aged stutterer

Thanks for all those who shared your experience with us. Though we cannot take comfort in the feeling that others have experienced it too, it gives us hope that he will outgrow it.

We have learned to not make a big deal out of his situation and take it as a glitch in his developmental process but we just dont want to be in the situation where we should have done something but did not do it. Good Father

2-1/2 year old starting stuttering about a month ago

May 2004

My daughter is 2-1/2 and starting stuttering about a month ago. She doesn't seem distressed about it, but it concerns us. Our doctor and the books I have read have said that this is common in 2-3 year olds and it may last a few months. We are doing our best to ignore it and not help her finish her sentences. Anyone had experience with this? Anon

My son stuttered from around age 2.5 to around age 3.5. Everyone kept telling me it was OK and not to worry, but I did anyway. They were right. He did grow out of it on his own. It was pretty scary for me though. I had a hard time accepting that I had to let him develop on his own.

I am a teacher and consulted with the school speech therapist because I didn't believe the pediatrician. Her advice was to slow down my own speech. She said that probably the reason our son was stuttering was that our family's speed of speech was too fast for him. I guess it is pretty common for kids' brains to work faster than their mouths, and if they are rushing to get it all out they end up stuttering. She suggested that I slow myself down. I did notice that if I spoke more deliberately (slow enough that there was a space between words, but not so slow I sounded fake) and maintained eye contact with him while talking, then he had an easier time getting his words out. It also helped for us to institute ''my turn, your turn'' talking periods (a few minutes each) at dinner. When it was our turn he couldn't interrupt, and when it was his turn we couldn't interrupt. The speech therapist said that it was better to wait to determine if it was a problem until after he was in pre-school and was interacting with more small children on a regular basis. She thought that would help him, and would also give me a more reliable measure of what ''normal'' is... she was right. He started preschool around 3.5 and I noticed that his speech wasn't as bad as I had feared. There are defintiely some kids who speak more clearly(usually girls,) but he is about in the middle. His vocabulary is fine, and the stuttering is gone.

Looking back, the stuttering seemed to go through phases... sometimes he didn't stutter for days, then all of a sudden it was aweful again. Eventually, it did just go away. Doing research on the web can be scary. Some sites recommend waiting, but others want you to just jump right on it and get therapy... The rhetoric reminds me a lot of the ''What to Expect...'' series... ''it could be perfectly normal, but can also be the sign of something serious...'' not exactly the kind of reassuring message a parent wants to hear. Give you kid some time... it probably is perfectly normal. mother of a former stutterer

Our son began some serious stuttering at about 2.25 yrs, and we worried, talked to friends, family and doctors, read books - pretty much the same actiions every parent takes when confronted with this issue. Almost all of the advice was in agreement: kids this age have a fast- moving brain that just can't wait for the words. Ignore the stutter so that the kid doesn't feel bad about it [or feel like there's something abnormal] and eventually most kids will catch their words up to their thoughts. Our son stopped stuttering about 9 months later. He's amazingly verbal and quite clear for a 3 year old. It's a difficult few months when you're just not sure, but 9 times out of 10, it will pass. Jean

I would not worry about the stuttering. My now 3-year-old son began stuttering at just that age. For awhile it was quite extreme, sometimes we had to wait up to a minute for him to get a word out. Our pediatrician gave us the good advice to not make a big deal out of it, be impatient, or try to finish his sentences, etc. And sure enough, it is gone now. Occasionally it will re-occur in a minor way, but I do think it is true that they just have stages where their speech has not caught up with how fast their little brains are going. Also, it may make you feel better to know that our pediatrician said this often happens with especially intelligent children! Heather

This is very common for kids of this age. She is much too young to even notice that she's stuttering. She's just trying to get all her big ideas out at once.

Just listen to her patiently, as long as it takes, and she'll very likely get over it quite soon. If she doesn't, then count it as good training for the future, because listening patiently is always the right thing to do. mom of older stutterer

2-year-old has suddenly begun stuttering

June 2001

Our two year old started stuttering all of a sudden about 5 days ago. It's hard to tell if he's doing it for fun or if he's really having trouble speaking. He seems to get stuck on a whole word rather than a single consonant. He repeats the word 10 or even 20 times before getting on with the rest of the sentence. So far the strategy has been not to comment on it and see if he'll just stop. Has this happened with anyone else? Did your child grow out of it or stop? Do we need to look into speech therapy?

Our two and a half year old son has had periods of stuttering on and off for many months, of a very similar nature, getting stuck on one word over and over before he can move onto the rest of the sentence. Our pediatrician told us not to worry and gave us some very helpful medical literature (which I can unfortunately not cite) about the difference between developmentally normal stuttering and speech impediments. This is apparently quite common and is the result, essentially, of being able to think faster than one can produce words; in the mismatch, some language gets stuck. We've noticed that it seems to come in waves, often right as he's having a linguistic growth spurt and his sentences are moving to a new level of complexity. Then it will cool off for a while. The advice we got was just to wait it out, to not draw attention to it (which would foster self-consciousness) and to not finish his sentences for him or offer the next word; we just wait patiently for the 10 or 20 repetitions until he can move on and finish his sentence, and then respond just as we would had he not stuttered. Things seem to be going fine. Good luck! Kirsten

I have been told by people in the field that it is not uncommon for children to pass through a brief phase of stuttering around age 2. It may be a result of a rapid development in conceptual knowledge and a need to communicate that knowledge without the requisite vocabulary skills. I think your approach of not making a big deal out of it is a good one. Incidentally, I just read an article about a study conducted several decades ago (The Monster Study) which sought to prove that stuttering could be environmentally induced by calling attention to and repeatedly correcting children's speech errors. Indeed, the researchers created enduring stutters by doing this with a group of orphans. So I'd say this is more evidence that you should just be patient with your child and let him work through this on his own. Alisa

Our now 4-year old daughter went through a period of stuttering around 2. It lasted for a while with various degrees of severity. Our wonderful pediatrician at the time assured us that it is a normal developmental stage. Essentially, the child's cognitive development is slightly ahead of his/her speech development. In other words, they can't get the words out fast enough! She also told us to be patient, try not to finish her words and not to comment on the stuttering. I don't know how long the experts would tell you to wait before assuming there is a problem, but I do remember that it went on for a while (off and on for several months?)She outgrew it and has never stuttered since. Hope that helps, good luck. jill

I am not a medical professional, so of course I don't know if your child's behavior might indicate an actual problem. But my son started repeating words in sentences around that age as well. He has a fantastic vocabulary and no speech problems (other than pronouncing th as f). But he does LOVE attention, and one of the best ways to get your parents to hang on every word is to add that element of suspense that comes with dragging out your sentences. He's three and a half now and still occasionally repeats words when he feels people aren't listening to him. Another thing I noticed with my son was that a lot of times, when the stuttering happened, it was because he was talking just to be talking and had not actually planned his sentence out ahead of time. My guess would be that your child's problem is not a stuttering issue, but an attention-getting device normal to very vocal children. Heather

When my son was about your child's age he also began to stutter. I too wondered if this was normal. I talked with his preschool teacher and she assured me that this was quite normal. My son is now 4 years old and he has out grown stuttering. JS

Our daughter had the exact same pattern of speech about the same time. It lasted for about four months and then disappeared for the most part (she is now 3 yrs 3 mo). I don't know whether it is common, but I didn't worry because it seemed to have less to do with difficulty getting the word out, and more to do with thinking about the next thing she wanted to say. For example, she would say Mama, the the the the the the the the the . . . . and eventually the noun she was looking for would come out, or she would say I can't think of what I'm trying to say or I can't talk!. Often this happened when she was distracted by activity in the house or just conflicting emotions. Usually sitting down at her level helped. I think it may have helped relieve any anxiety she had that I might walk away if she couldn't get the word out right away. Sometimes if she was particularly distressed that she couldn't think of the word, I would try to help her figure it out by having her point to the object or guess what she was trying to say from context. Hope this helps. Cheers. Rachel

I am not an expert on this, but my mother in law is a speech therapist for preschoolers, and tells me that it is common for young kids to stutter or have trouble getting words out when they are making cognitive leaps. Basically the idea is that they are focusing so hard on expressing a more complex thought than they have before, that in doing so, they regress on skills they already had, like articulating clearly or getting a whole sentence out smoothly. I've seen my son do this, and he eventually gets back up to where he was until the next cognitive leap comes along. Maybe this is what your child is going through too. Ann

Both my sons went through a similar phase. They would seem to go into a loop, repeating the last word spoken (or last syllable in a multi-syllabic word) endlessly before moving on. Sometimes they would instead start the sentence over and get hung up again (though not always at the same place). We tried to ignore the repetition and to listen as patiently as we could without supplying words -- a hard thing to do when you are in a hurry. In both cases, the phase passed fairly quickly. My unprofessional theory (I'm a lawyer, not a doctor or a speech pathologist) is that some children (especially kids who are articulate and have big vocabularies) have brains that work ahead of their mouths. Their thoughts are so far ahead of them that they have to repeat words as their brain resupplies words already passed by. The problem stops when their mouths catch up with their brains. Good luck. Leslie

My son started stuttering when he was around 3 years old. At the time, his peditrician said that many children also go through this and eventually grow out of it. Without going into a bunch of details, my son has indeed grown out of it. He does see a speech therapist, but not for stuttering. His stuttering stopped when my husband and I stopped putting so much emphasis on how he said things or how he pronounced his words. For speech, as in all things, children learn best by example. Perhaps you should slow down your own speech, just a tad, not so much that it no longer sounds normal but just a little. Essentially keeping on doing what you're doing. Be patient. He'll grow out of it. Nikki

Reading the other advice about stuttering, I just wanted to mention that although you should not harass a two year old about their speech, you should keep an eye (or ear) on it. My son stuttered a lot as a two year old. One piece of advice we had was to take him to a developmentally based gym program that would help him with general coordination - so that he could speak as fast as he thought. I also noticed that he was addicted to oversized gumboots and being carried about - just pulling off the boots and making him walk more reduced the stuttering a lot in a few weeks. He did continue to do it occasionally, particularly when he was excited, and would get frustrated, so at the age of five I took him to a speech therapist who checked him out for any other possible learning problems, as well as giving strategies for helping him slow down and speak more clearly. It was interesting to hear him turn on the beautifully clear speech as soon as he slowed down - he's still often in a hurry though! Once you get your ear tuned you realise that a lot of adults repeat words too. The speech therapist said that they are happy to see any children who stutter, because it's so curable at the 4-6 age and a more difficult habit to break later. She found no learning difficulties, but he did later have problems with reading and he ended up having sensory motor exercises which helped coordinate his eye movements for reading and upper body strength for balancing pencils and so forth. I have to believe that all these things were related.

Just another note - now that the kids are older we play a game in the car where each person has a turn at talking for one minute on a given topic without saying um, er, or repeating words. It's really hard, for all the kids and adults who try it! We have a little hand held tape recorder and they find it hilarious to play it back, while I find it gives them great practice at good speech. fiona

3-year-old stuttering

Jan 2005

Our 3 yr old recently seems to be stuttering when talking. Repeating the same word several times. We never noticed this before. It seemed to happen just a couple of days ago. What causes this? We are concerned.

Feb 1998

Both of our boys went through a stuttering phase. Our first boy was around 30 months old or so when he started and it went on for 3 or 4 months. We asked the doctor about it and he said it was very common for boys between the ages of 2 and 4 to go through this phase. He said for many, the cause is pretty simple. Their vocabulary has grown, they are learning to express themselves but their tongues cannot keep up with their brains. He suggested we just be patient, not try to hurry his speech, and not focus any attention on the stuttering. This seemed to work well. By the time he was 3, there was no trace of the stutter left.

Our second son started stuttering just before we moved. He was about 32 months when it started. After the move it got much worse. Not only did we move cities but he went from in house daycare to outside group daycare. His stuttering lasted about 6 months and although he still stutters occasionally, it is getting rare. Now it seems to be when he is trying to express a new thought or talking with new people.

From: Leah

Coincidentally, I was reading last night Your 3 Yr-Old by Ames & Ilg. I don't love all their solutions, but often find them right on re development. It can be very reassuring. The intro discusses some of the insecurities often suddenly faced by previously quite secure 3 1/2 yr-olds (or thereabouts), and some of the forms this can take. Stuttering for a while is apparently one of them: stuttering...causes many parents undue anxiety. We ourselves tend to label stuttering at this age as mere 'preschool nonfluency' [whatever that is] and unless it prolongs itself for several months, let it go at that.

From: Natasha

Please don't worry about this phenomenon! It's completely normal for a three year old to stutter. Our child briefly went through this phase; she'd repeat the first word of a sentence over and over, and several of her friends did too. It didn't last long, and she's now a four year old with extremely fluent speech. I would strongly recommend that you read the (short) book Your Three-Year-Old, from the excellent series on child development by Ames and Ilg. Here's what they say:

Stuttering, which in many comes in at this age...causes many parents undue anxiety. We ourselves tend to label stuttering at this age as mere preschool non-fluency, and unless it prolongs itself for several months, let it go at that...

It may be calming to parents to know that it is a customary, usually quite normal stage that some children go through...Most speech specialists advise strongly not only that parents not worry about preschool stuttering, but that they not DO anything about it.

The old-fashioned notion of telling the child to slow down and say it over, or other similar admonition, is definitely not recommended. As a rule, the less attention you pay to early stuttering, the sooner it drops out. The thing you CAN do is to be sure that you give full and good attention to whatever it may be that your child is saying. This will reduce his need to talk fast and will reduce the likelihood that he will stutter.

We just looked at this time as one in which her thoughts were running faster than her tongue!

Thanks to all of you who replied back. Your comments strengthen what his Dr. told me. His doctor gave me a 2 page copy from the book - Your Child's Health, - Does your child have a stuttering problem? Written by Barton D Schmitt, MD, it shows the problem and the solution and it does state that this occurs in about 90% of children because the child's mind is able to form words faster than the tongue can produce them.(Wheww)And it is four times more common in boys than girls. The name given to the stuttering is called Dsyfluency or Pseduostuttering.

Older Kids

Stuttering 5 yr old?

Oct 2011

Hi, I have a 5 year old son who on occasion sounds like he is stuttering. When he starts to speak there is a certain slur, as in: ''I-I-I want you to read with me.'' Or, ''P-P-P-Please let me do that.''

This occurs about 50-70% of the time and is more pronounced when he is tired and is trying to get our attention.

As for my son, he is like a typical 5 yr old -- likes Legos, gets along well (most times) with younger sister, speaks 3 languages, does well in school. He is on the shy side with others (esp. Adults) but at home, he talks a lot.

His mother exhibits some stuttering now and did stutter some bit as a child.

I was wondering if other parents have experienced this with their child and what you'd recommend. Should I take him to see a speech therapist?

Appreciate any help/guidance you can provide. Thankful for your help

We had something similar happen and he outgrew it. In our case it seemed to be seasonal. At the beginning of the school year (preschool and K) he would stutter quite a bit. You could tell he wanted to say a lot quickly and it would all get bogged up in his brain and confuse him. Every year i thought about going to see a speech therapist. I am not against it at all, but i tend to think so many things get outgrown naturally. Sure enough, every year it stopped around Christmas. Every year that's when he would mature a little and that would help. With 1st grade it did not happen at all! His vocabulary is better, he is a little calmer and it's all good. In our case it was compounded by me, because i speak a different language to him and wanted him to speak to me in that language. Now that he has them both completely down, he is just fine.

I would think about phases..has this happened before? And also your attitude. Do you tend to be busy and moving around a lot? See if changing anything will help and if it doesn't take him! best of luck anon

Both my kids went through a stuttering stage. It was particularly pronounced in our younger son: he repeated the last word or syllable until the next word came, and it took him FOREVER to complete a thought. We worried, of course, as parents do. But it passed. The older one is now in college and teaches and records lectures. The younger one is a high school debater and thespian. So relax and let the thoughts come, however tortured the process may be. It will pass. Mom of Big Guys (Used to be ''Mom of Teenagers'' But One Just Turned 20!)

Totally NORMAL. Both my sons went through a stuttering stage. I have been told that it happens to most for a period of time, esp when they suddenly have way more ideas than words...and their brains are like a HUGE funnel full to the brim of ideas with a little tiny hole (their mouths) through which they all need to go.

I know it is frustrating and worrisome (esp the first time...with son #2, we just looked at each other and said...ahhh, here we are again). I am trying to remember how long the phase was...3-6 months?? Nikki

According to California Education Law your child would be qualified to recieve FREE AND APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE) Services. This includes FREE assessments in order to determine the most appropriate program(s) available either at his/ her school site. Should your child not be currently enrolled in a California public school he/ she would continue to qualify for FREE assessments under the CHILD FIND ACT. At the school site level you can place a ''Request for Evaluation'' Form from the school site's Main Office. From the time that you complete and sign this form the school district has 60 CALENDAR DAYS to complete the evaluation and conduct a formal meeting notifying you of the findings and citing their recommendations.

2 year old stuttering

Nov 2010

My daughter just turned 2 last month, and I've noticed that she's started stuttering. She is very verbal with a big vocabulary, good memory for words, and speaks in sentences. At first it seemed like she just couldn't speak as fast as she was thinking, but now it seems more like it's just something she does. I've looked it up a little and talked to a friend who is a speech therapist, and it sounds pretty typical, but you know when it's your own kids you just worry more? I guess I was just wondering if anyone else's kids did this, then just grew out of it and stopped? Everything I've read said to just be patient, but that's not really my style! Any ideas? Thanks! anon

My son was stuttering between the age of 2.2 and 2.5. He will be 3 in January. I was very concerned too. He started talking very early, has a great memory and is very engaged in the world around him. He just gradually stopped stuttering.

I made myself stop being concerned about it and did the best I could to not let him know when I was concerned. I allowed him to finish the words he was stuttering over himself and encouraged others to do the same. I noticed sometimes he did get frustrated and would try to change words. If he couldn't get the word out and couldn't find another way to say what he was trying to say, it was very difficult for him.

I wondered if maybe some people who stutter got stuck in a stuttering stage, because people around them were not patient or made a big deal about.

It will be ok. It is just a brain development thing. Be as patient as possible. Cassandra

Yes, when it's your child, you always worry more even if everyone else tells you to just be patient for them to grow out of it!

Our daughter is also very verbal and there was maybe a month or two when she stuttered because she just couldn't get her thoughts out fast enough. I worried a bit, but she since she wasn't stuttering with every single sentence, I didn't worry too much. And she did just grow out of it.

I have a friend whose daughter wasn't verbal and only started speaking after 2.5. And her daughter also went through a period of stuttering. So it sounds like it's pretty typical anon

You know, my daughter started stuttering around the same age (she's now almost 4). I didn't even realize that it had stopped until I read your post! mom of former stutterer

I recently took a language development class at BANANAS and learned that there is a phase around this age (2-3?) where some kids do this and its completely normal. I don't remember the percentage of kids that do this but I remember it was high. I would recommend calling a speech therapist and asking them about this before you worry too much. good luck. . . . .

Both my kids, also early (and contant) talkers, went through this stage. It was particularly pronounced in our younger son: he repeated the last word or syllable until the next word came, and it took him FOREVER to complete a thought. We worried, of course, as parents do. But it passed. The older one is now in college and teaches and records lectures. The younger one is a high school debater. So relax and let the thoughts come, however tortured the process may be. It will pass. Mom of Teenagers

Our now 4-year old went through this as a 2-year old. He was a very early talker, easily saying 10 word sentences by the time he turned 2. At 2 years and 4 months, he started stuttering on a Monday afternoon. By that Wednesday, he was nearly incomprehensible. It lasted about 9 months, which is kind of bad -- anything more than 6 months people start to worry that it will be permanent. We talked to 3 different speech pathologists and they all told us basically the same things, like never finish words or sentences for him, don't call attention to it, slow our lives down, don't rush. It is supposed to be like a problem with fine motor skills but with the tongue and our child had more thoughts than he could express and he got tripped up trying to spit it all out.

We got two moderately helpful books called ''Stuttering and Your Child: Questions and Answers'' and ''If Your Child Stutters: A Guide for Parents'' from the Stuttering Foundation. Particularly the 2nd book gave us some more tips to help him.

Our son still stutters a bit when tired and stressed, but now he just trips over a few words instead of every word he utters. We recently had him evaluated again, in part because of the occasional stuttering and in part because his diction still isn't as clear as before, and we were told not to worry. Anon

Stuttering 5-year old

Oct 2006

Our 5-year old son started kindergarten this fall and has been stuttering for almost a year. His stuttering comes in phases, sometimes it's really bad and the words just don't come out, other periods it works ok, just slightly repeating single words. Recently it's been getting worse and we considered a speech evaluation to determine whether its just speech development or real stuttering. But its not covered by our insurance, so we were wondering if there's anyone out there who had some experience with speech therapy at this age. Did it work out well? Did the child enjoy it? Does it get worse once we talk to him about it (we haven't done it yet, just being really patient and talking slowly)? When will he feel self- conscious about it or when does the teasing start? Any experience or advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks anon

Contact your local school district for an evaluation. He may be eligible for speech therapy through the district, and if he is not, you might be able to take the evaluation to a private therapist, who can work off of that plan, thereby avoiding the expensive initial evaluation. Susan

Your child can be evaluated by a speech pathologist at school (assuming he's in public school). A great resource about stuttering, including how to respond to his speech, details about assessment and therapy is The Stuttering Foundation of America: Their advice about whether your child should get therapy or not is very good: A speech language pathologist

Hi. I'm a Speech Therapist in the public schools in San Leandro and also the mom of a daughter who stuttered between ages three and four. The first thing to know is that your son can get a speech evaluation through your school district. Stuttering typically goes in cycles, and can be associated with periods of rapid language growth. An SLP can also help you track your son's stuttering patterns to see what may be exacerbating his dysfluency, and help you (and his classroom teacher) create a supportive speech environment. Speech therapy at this age can be very successful, especially when it's supplemented by a regular home program. Not all children become 'fluent,' but all can become more confident about their speech. Typically, SLPs use stories and games that kindergarteners enjoy as the basis for speech groups. You can look forward to learning about your son's and your family's speech patterns, and having fun with speech activities.

You can get a free speech evaluation at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center in Oakland 839-1513. It's painless speech mom

Stuttering: Sudden Onset in Teen

May 2006

Does anyone have experience with the sudden onset of stuttering in a 16 year old? Our son began stuttering approx. two months ago. We've met with his doctor and talked quite indepth about stressors (drugs/alcohol, relationships, sex and sexuality, school pressure). We've done internet research with various stuttering organizations and can find minimal information on sudden onset. He reports that he is aware of stuttering, has not been teased, nor does it bother him a great deal (but he would like to do something about it), and that he doesn't feel under much stress, is ''relaxed'' and ''happy'' with his life, does not use substances as he is an athlete. Though we don't expect a 16 year old to tell us everything, we truly do not see signs of trauma. We will be taking him to a speech therapist soon for a consult (any recommendations?) and any insight/experience from parents and/or professionals would be appreciated. Thank you!

When I was youngish, maybe 10 (?) I began to stutter occasionally, and then it became a full blown stutter about a year later. My parents sent me to a speech therapist, which did help. I no longer stutter, except when I'm tired or sometimes when I'm nervous. But, I do speak very quickly now, and I think it's because I knew, subconsiously, that it was the only way to not stutter. So, I don't have any advice, just sympathy for your son. My parents never made it seem like big problem, and it sounds like you aren't either, which is great! ex stutterer

If it is true stuttering the onset is suppose to have occurred at age 5 or younger (when the child's language first became fluent). Sudden onset of stuttering as a teen is not considered true stuttering, but only secondary to a traumatic event, stressors, medications etc., or other brain ailments (stroke, seizures, brain injury. I know you mentioned these things do not apply to your son. It could be he's getting used to new vocabulary/slang (talking a different way i.e. cooler or more sophisticated), more aware and self conscious of what others think, and how they view him, which is very common as a teenager. Also the conversations become deeper, and require more thought or knowledge possibly making the speaker less competent or comfortable. This is the age when public speaking becomes more difficult. There is usually a rate of speech you can slow a stutterer down to and the stuttering behavior diminishes. It wouldn't hurt to see a speech therapist who specializes in stuttering to rate the severity, if it is stuttering, and to give your teenager some tools to improve his speaking. I beleive SF State Univ. and Hayward State Univ. will give you a free evaluation from students under experts supervision with a referral. A self referral may be okay. Contact the Special Ed./Speech & Language Pathology Departments. Pamela