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Stuttering - Topic Overview

How is stuttering diagnosed?

A speech-language pathologist can usually diagnose stuttering by having the child read aloud. The pathologist may film or record the child talking or may check speech patterns in other ways. Your child may also need a physical exam and other tests to rule out health problems that affect speech development, such as hearing problems.

Talk with your child's doctor if you have any concerns about your child's speech, if stuttering lasts more than 6 to 12 months, or if stuttering runs in your family.

If you are an adult who has started to stutter, see your doctor. Stuttering that starts in an adult is most often linked to an injury, a health problem, or severe emotional trauma. To diagnose the problem, the doctor will do a physical exam, ask you some questions, and watch and listen to you speak.

How is it treated?

Treatment for stuttering often includes counseling for the parents and speech therapy for the child. The main goal of treatment is to help your child learn to speak as smoothly as possible.

Parent counseling can help you understand how speech develops and teach you how to relate to your child in a positive way. You'll also learn how to help your child at home by using proper eye contact and body language when your child is trying to talk to you.

Speech therapy is important in some cases, especially if your child's stuttering lasts, gets worse, or is severe. Working with a speech therapist can help your child master certain speech and language skills and feel better about his or her ability to speak.

Remember that when stuttering begins in early childhood, it tends to go away on its own. If you think your child's stuttering is not normal disfluency, talk with your child's doctor.

Adults or teens who stutter may find both speech therapy and counseling helpful. Counseling can help you manage anxiety, low self-esteem, and other problems that can make stuttering worse.

When stuttering is caused by brain damage, such as after a head injury, treatment may include speech therapy, physical rehabilitation, medicines, and treatments for the brain damage itself.

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