Mahaska Health Partnership Highlights Stuttering
MAHASKA COUNTY – Stuttering, a disorder noted by disruptions in the typical rate and rhythm of speech, often begins in childhood and can last through a person’s lifetime in some cases. Mahaska Health Partnership wants you to know the signs, symptoms and treatment options because early intervention can influence the long-term effects.
According to the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association, stuttering is characterized by atypical rate, rhythm and repetitions of individual sounds, syllables, words or phrases.
“Some individuals may experience part-word repetition, where they struggle to move from one part of the word on to the rest. Others may have sound prolongation, where they extend certain sounds,” MHP Speech Pathologist Kim Swarts explained. “Some individuals may also anticipate difficulty producing a word or sound and interject phrases such as ‘um’, ‘you know’ and ‘like’ until they are comfortable saying the next word in a sentence.”
Stuttering may be accompanied by secondary characteristics such as excessive tension or movements unrelated to production of speech. According to the ASHA, there does appear to be a genetic component to stuttering and boys are three to four times more likely to have a fluency disorder.
Swarts stressed that when talking to an individual with a fluency disorder, the most important thing a person can do is to give him/her the time needed to complete a statement.
“Maintaining eye contact and responding in a calm, relaxed voice can help the speaker not feel pressured to rush his responses,” Swarts said. “Interrupting by attempting to complete a statement is not helpful and often makes the speaker feel additional pressure to complete the statement quickly.”
Not all fluency disorders in children are abnormal. Many children between two and a half to five years of age demonstrate developmental speech dysfluencies.
“As young children learn grammar and work toward more complex speech, it is normal for them to exhibit have some dysfluencies,” Swarts shared. “Most preschoolers who begin to stutter will stop within a few months. If your child shows continued or increasing difficulty with their speech production, an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist may be warranted and can give you peace of mind.”
If you are concerned about your child’s speech fluency, a speech therapist can help determine if his/her difficulties are developmental or if he/she would benefit from Speech Therapy services.
For more information on stuttering and other speech disorders, contact Mahaska Health Partnership Speech Pathologist Kim Swarts at 641.672.3360.
Mahaska Health Partnership, located in Oskaloosa, is a non-profit health system accredited by the Joint Commission. It is guided by its mission to provide exceptional customer service and health improvement, linking the science of medicine with the humanity of compassionate care. For more information about how Mahaska Health Partnership is making healthcare personal, call 641-672-3240 or visit www.mahaskahealth.org.