Treatment for a child who stutters focuses on teaching new ways of speaking to improve fluency and by offering ways to compensate, or manage, the condition in the best way possible.
A speech language pathologist working with a young child may use play-based therapy, which can include role-playing, puppets, songs, and other “scripted” play, to help a child through different triggers that prompt stuttering.
In an older child, a primary goal of speech therapy is to increase the child’s comfort level in uncomfortable speaking situations, Mezzatesta says. Not only can that help improve language fluency, but it’s important to support social and emotional growth.
Even if a child is seemingly able to overcome a stutter completely, it is always possible it may come back in adulthood, Mezzatesta says. That is why it’s important that the child gains self-confidence as part of the speech therapy process.
“Ultimately, one of the primary goals of speech therapy is to instill in a child the belief that they don’t need to be limited or defined by their stuttering at any point in their lives,” Mezzatesta says. “If we accomplish that, then we’ve made a lot of progress.”
If you believe your child is struggling with a speech impediment, you should bring the issue to the attention of the child’s physician, who can refer you to a speech language pathologist.