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Stammering (Dysfluency)

Dysfluent talking, stammering and stuttering are ways to describe speech which is not fluent. There may be lots of pauses in the flow of speech, words and sounds might be repeated several times, or may sound ‘stretched out’. Sometimes, it may be hard for the young person with dysfluent talking to start off their words and sentences. They may experience frustration and sensitivity about their talking.

It is normal for preschool children to go through a period of dysfluent talking. Children may repeat words or phrases or use lots of interceptions e.g. ‘um’ as they sort out what they are trying to say. This usually coincides with rapid bursts of development.

However, if you notice that your child is very aware of their struggles with talking and/or has been dysfluent for more than 12 months and/or often gets stuck or repeats words and/or it seems to be getting worse, then it would be a good idea to contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service for an initial assessment and advice.

Older children and young people may also experience dysfluent talking. Some children are happy with the way they speak and are able to manage their stammer well in ways they have discovered for themselves. Others benefit from ideas and practice of ways to improve their fluency and communication skills from a Speech and Language Therapist.

Some young people ask for help at ‘pressure points’ during their school life, such as participation in speaking activities in school. The Speech and Language Therapy Service can also help in these situations.

Guidance and helpful information

Encouraging communication skills from a young age is very important. You can help and support your child’s communication as you do everyday activities and play together.

Please check out the toolkits and advice sheets to the right for help and advice as to how you can help your child before deciding whether a referral into the service is necessary. These toolkits provide advice on how to spot difficulties your child might be having with talking and using language and give advice on activities you can do at home with your child. You should select the toolkit for the right age group of your child. There are also web links that you may find useful.

If your health or educational professional has made any recommendations about exercises that you can do with your child while you are waiting, it is important that you keep these going.

If you require further guidance and advice you can speak to a Speech and Language Therapist on 0300 247 0090 (Mon – Fri 9-5pm).

How we can help

Speech and Language Therapists will work with you to identify your child’s stammering behaviours, helping you both to understand them and make changes to help. We work to maximise their potential to enable your child to communicate effectively in everyday situations.

The Speech and Language Therapy Team offers a range of therapy approaches to help children, young people and their families develop effective ways of improving fluency and communication skills. Following an initial assessment, the Speech and Language Therapist will design an individual treatment plan to best manage the child’s fluency difficulties. This will depend on the child’s age, personality, family situation, own personal goals for their talking and other factors.

How to refer

Visit the Single Point of Access (SPA) page for information on the referral process.

If you require further guidance and advice you can speak to a Speech and Language Therapist by calling the SPA on 0300 247 0090 (Mon – Fri 9-5pm).

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