Pres Rx: Stuttering

Singer Carly Simon and actress Emily Blunt and Nicholas Brendon didn't let stuttering stop them from becoming successful. This week, Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell discusses how children and adults can overcome speech barriers like stuttering.

Did you know according to the Stuttering Foundation of America, more than 3 million people in the U.S. stutter? And although there are no instant cures, there are a variety of successful approaches that can help.

Many children go through a stage of speech development when they have periods of difficulty speaking called dysfluency. Parents may be concerned when they hear these dysfluencies that stuttering will develop. Parents who notice stuttering that persists beyond three to six months or is particularly severe, should seek help from a speech-language pathologist. A speech-language evaluation can determine if the child is experiencing normal dysfluencies or if the dysfluencies are true stutters.

In addition to working with a speech-language pathologist, parents can help their children to be more fluent by:

• Speaking in an unhurried way, pausing frequently.

• Reducing the number of questions they ask and pausing before answering.

• Using body language to convey they're listening to their child's message.

• Helping family members take turns talking and listening.

Stuttering is usually harder for adults to overcome. However, the speech of adults who stutter is often substantially improved with therapy, even when stuttering is not completely eliminated. Many adults who stutter find that working on their stuttering improves their social interactions, their employment prospects.