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Language Development

5 Possible Signs of Stuttering

4 December 2017


Stuttering is a disruption in the forward flow of speech. Stuttering may take many forms and may be accompanied by secondary behaviors. It is normal for preschoolers to display some non-fluent speech, but this tends to be episodic or cyclical, coming and going without apparent cause.

Less typical non-fluent speech that may be signs of stuttering include:

1. Part-word or part-sound repetition such as “ta-ta-ta-table” or “t-t-t-toy”

  • Whole-word repetition is more typical of normal language development.

2. Drawn-out sounds like “rrrrrrrrrrabit”

  • Phrase repetitions such as “I wanted to-I want to go” are typical of normal development.

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3. Brief loss of voice or airflow for several seconds called a block

  • Hesitations, silent pauses or interjections such as “like” or “um” are more typical of normal development.

4. Physical tension, struggle or tremors

Good to know: There is no known one cause of stuttering. It is not caused by emotional problems, nervousness or parenting style.

5. Fear or avoidance of speaking

Good to know: Many preschoolers will outgrow early signs of stuttering.

If you’re concerned about your child’s speech:

  • keep a journal to document any improvement or decline
  • request a screening through your local school district

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