Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects the fluency of speech. It is characterized by disruptions or blockages in the flow of speech, causing repetition or prolongation of sounds, syllables, or words. Stuttering can occur in children and adults, but it is most commonly seen in children between the ages of two and six.
While the exact causes of stuttering are not yet known, there are several risk factors that are associated with its development in children. The most common risk factors are listed below. If your child ticks off at least one risk factor, please consult a speech and language pathologist to address your concerns.
One of the significant risk factors for stuttering is having a family history of stuttering. Studies have found that approximately 60% of people who stutter have a family member who also stutters.
Researchers have identified several genes that are associated with stuttering. These genes may be inherited from one or both parents and can increase the likelihood of developing stuttering. However, not all people with a family history of stuttering will develop stuttering, and not all people who stutter have a family history of the disorder.
Age at onset
Age of onset is another significant risk factor for stuttering. Stuttering is more likely to occur in children between 2 and 5 years old. This is the period when children are learning to speak, and their language skills are rapidly developing.
Stuttering that starts after the age of 5 years is less common and may be related to other factors, such as genetics, environmental factors, or other idiopathic factors.
Research has shown that children who stutter early in life are more likely to recover spontaneously or with speech therapy than those who begin to stutter later. However, early onset does not guarantee that the stuttering will resolve without intervention, and some children may continue to stutter into adulthood.
Time since the onset of the stuttering
The time since the onset of the stuttering is yet another important factor in determining the risk of stuttering. According to research, almost 70% – 80% of the children who start to stutter will spontaneously show improvement in their fluency within 1-2 years without speech therapy. It is also important to note any stuttering that persists for longer than six months. If your child has been stuttering for over six months, they are less likely to outgrow it.
Studies have consistently shown that stuttering affects males more frequently than females. According to the National Stuttering Association, approximately four times as many males as females stutter. This gender difference has been observed across different cultures and age groups.
However, it is important to note that while males are more likely to stutter than females, this does not mean that stuttering is exclusive to males. Females can and do experience stuttering, and the severity and impact of stuttering can vary greatly between individuals, regardless of gender.
Language related factors
Research suggests that there may be a relationship between language skills and the development of stuttering. Specifically, some studies have found that children who have difficulty with certain language skills, such as grammar or vocabulary, may be at a higher risk for developing stuttering.
However, it is important to note that not all children with language difficulties will develop stuttering, and not all children who stutter have language difficulties.
Speech related factors
Speech sound disorders can be one of the risk factors for stuttering. Speech sound disorders refer to difficulties in articulating and producing speech sounds, which can include substitutions, omissions, or distortions of sounds. According to research, a child with speech sound disorders may be less likely to outgrow stuttering than a child with typical speech development.
These are the common risk factors that could place your child at risk for developing and persisting stuttering. If you feel that your child has one or more of these risk factors, it would be advisable to consult a speech and language pathologist who specializes in fluency-related disorders. The speech and language pathologist will help screen, assess, and treat childhood stuttering disorders.
If you are interested in speech therapy services, please contact us: Therapy Services – Speech Improvement Center
If you are interested in speech therapy careers, please contact us: Employment Opportunities – Speech Improvement Center
Check our locations here: Locations – Speech Improvement Center