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HealthInfo Canterbury

Stuttering in children

Girl with a stammer Stuttering, or stammering, is an interruption to the flow of your speech that you can't control. It can happen in different ways, such as:

We don't know exactly what causes stuttering, but we think it is caused by difficulties in the part of the brain that produces speech. It may also be partly genetic, as stuttering often runs in families.

Around 5 to 10% of preschool children will stutter. Stuttering usually develops when children are aged between 2 and 4. But every child goes through a period of what is called "normal non-fluency" that can be mistaken for stuttering.

In normal non-fluency, children who are learning to talk and starting to combine words into short sentences repeat whole words, for example "and and..." or "because because..." While this can be worrying, it's not the same as stuttering.

Generally, if there is a family history of stuttering, or if the non-fluency continues for more than three months, seek the advice of a speech-language therapist.

Diagnosing stuttering in children

Only a qualified speech-language therapist or paediatrician can diagnose stuttering. There is no simple test your doctor can use.

Treating stuttering in children

Some children recover naturally from stuttering. Several treatment approaches are available for those who don't, and your speech-language therapist will choose the best one to meet your child's needs.

Helping your child with stuttering

There are several things you can do to help your child communicate clearly:

Getting more help for stuttering in children

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2021.

Page reference: 129665

Review key: HISCD-79694