26 answers

Speech Development

My 5 years-old son has difficulty saying words. He stutters terribly and speaks like a 3 years-old at times. I have taken him to be tested and he was placed on a waiting list for a speach therapist but what is it that I can do on my own. I feel that this is hindering him in his academic growth.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I have gotten SO much advise. THANK YOU ALL. My older sons had a stuttering problem as well but not as servere as my 5 years old. His hearing was testing and they found nothing wrong with it. The speech testing was done through Children's Hospital. He is currently attending a DC Public Charter School and may be attending a private school in the fall.

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My son who is now 13 has been in private speech therapy since he was about 2 years old. For the past 3 years he's been seeing a woman named Lori Sova-Speech-Language Pathologist. Lori is wonderful and has done a great job with my son, who will properly stop seeing her because he is not stuttering anymore and is definitely more fluent and articulate. I highly recommend her. She is located in Owings Mills/Reisterstown, if you are interested please e-mail me directly and I can give you details. ____@____.com - thanks.

I would ask the school that the child goes to to see their speech teacher. I know the school my child will attend has a speech teacher right at the school to do one on one with them. My son will be in pre-k this fall and has a speech problem and that is what they are going to do for him. I hope this helps.

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Is he in school? He should be tested in the school system if he is. Also check with your county and he could qualify for speech services through their preschool program.

If you had your son tested within the county Childfind program and he qualified for services, you should demand that they see him now. They have a short grace period before they have to start services but they can't just make him wait. They are required by law to meet his needs.
That being said remember that all kids develop at a different pace. Keep talking to him about EVERYTHING. Help him to pronounce the words correctly and be supportive! Good Luck!

Hi S.,
One of my children had a speech problem.He mumbled and stuttered. It took a while to find out but his was directly related to his hearing.He wasn't hearing us clearly, and repeated what he heard. When I couldn't understand him, and asked him to repeat himself, he would get frustrated and agitated causing the stuttering. If you haven't, I would have his hearing checked out by a specialist.

I noticed some language issues with my son when he was around 3. We visited doctors, etc where I consistently got the run around. My strongest recommendation is to be persistent. I was finally able to find a provider who really listened to me, and my son was identified with a moderate hearing impairment. He is now 11, speaks clearly, and wears a hearing aid while he is in school.

We were able to get help through the school system--even if your son is not yet in kindergarten, the schools can help with speech therapy. There are also often resources available through universities--especially those who offer coursework in the area you need.

Keep asking questions; keep checking his spot on the waiting list; ask everyone you know for resources, etc. If you have the financial means, take him to get a dx through a private office. Identifying the problem is the first step toward fixing it. But, most of all, trust your instincts. I overheard an audiologist arguing with a physician over my son. Following our visit, I calle the audiologist directly and asked her opinion. Although she couldn't speak out against the physician in question, she did answer some pointed questions honestly enough to keep me searching for the help we needed. It was a long road, but in the end well worth the effort.

Today my son is at the top of his class--in kindergarten he couldn't keep up! We took advantage of tutors and got to know teachers personally.

You are his best advocate. Fight hard. Good luck.

Can your 5 year old read yet? I remember reading about James Earl Jones, who is a stutterer. One of the interesting things about stuttering is that it doesn't affect reading or reading aloud.

Stress makes it worse.

I would think the best thing for your son would be to be very verbal with him and to give him lots of opportunities to practice is a relaxed atmosphere. Probably flash cards of pictures to give him practice naming objects or just pointing to stuff and such would be helpful.

I hope he gets into therapy soon. I was a lisp-er growing up. Speech therapy is wonderful.

Hi S.!
When my son was about the same age, he used to drag out his words, like he's say IIIII and then the rest of the sentence or anananand. The doc told us he thought his mind was working faster than his mouth. We pretty much just kept telling him to take his time & he out grew it. I don't know if the stuttering your son is doing is the same, but I know reinforcement is very helpful.
Good luck!

Hi S. B.,

I am a Speech Pathologist in Maryland. I recommend that you do an internet search on "Creating a Fluency-Enhancing Environment". Articles on this topic will give you information about how to create an environment in your home that will help your son be more fluent. Here are a few tips that should help:

-Don't interrupt him or allow him to interrupt others (creates time pressure)
-Don't ask a lot of open-ended questions (creates demands)
-Don't react to the stuttering
-Do activities that don't require talking
-Speak more slowly, but naturally
-Model normal dysfluencies, such as saying "um" or pausing while speaking (teaches that everyone is dysfluent at times)
-Show him that you have time to listen
-Don't tell him to slow down

Get him into speech therapy as soon as you can because therapy is more effective when started at an early age.

Hi, S.,

Have you had his hearing tested? That can be a huge hinderance in language development. Also, look into private speech therapy--a lot of insurance companies cover it with you just paying a co-pay (with my insurance it's $15.00 per session), up to a certain number of sessions per year.

Good luck! Definitely check the hearing, though!!! If he doesn't hear the words correctly or clearly, he'll stall with his language progression.

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