Management of childhood stuttering

Authors


  • Declaration of conflict of interest: None declared.

Correspondence: Professor Mark Onslow, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, PO Box 170, Lidcombe, NSW 1825, Australia. Fax: +61 2 9351 9392; email: mark.onslow@sydney.edu.au

Abstract

Abstract

Stuttering is a speech disorder that begins during the first years of life and is among the most prevalent of developmental disorders. It appears to be a problem with neural processing of speech involving genetics. Onset typically occurs during the first years of life, shortly after language development begins. Clinical presentation during childhood is interrupted and effortful speech production, often with rapid onset. If not corrected during early childhood, it becomes intractable and can cause psychological, social, educational and occupational problems. There is evidence from replicated clinical trials to support early intervention during the pre-school years. Meta-analysis of studies indicates that children who receive early intervention during the pre-school years are 7.7 times more likely to have resolution of their stuttering. Early intervention is recommended with a speech pathologist. Some children who begin to stutter will recover without such intervention. However, the number of such recoveries is currently not known, and it is not possible to predict which children are likely to recover naturally. Consequently, the current best practice is for speech pathologists to monitor children for signs of natural recovery for up to 1 year before beginning treatment.

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