New help for stuttering—Complex disorder devastating for preschoolers and parents

New help for stuttering—Complex disorder devastating for preschoolers and parents


Parents eagerly anticipate the moment when their child first begins to talk. But for some parents, it is a time of anxiety because their child struggles to get words out.

As many as 20 percent of all preschoolers nationwide have repetitions and prolongations of sounds severe enough to be of concern to their parents.

A new videotape, Stuttering and the Preschool Child: Help for Families, helps parents detect stuttering and take action toward helping their child and is now available at the Kirkland Public Library in Kirkland, Ill. and the Cherry Valley District Library in Cherry Valley, Ill.

Produced by the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation, the video describes what kinds of stuttering young children may exhibit, how parents can help at home, and the role of a speech pathologist in evaluating and treating children who stutter. The Foundation offers the videotape free to all public libraries, and more than 4,000 libraries nationwide have already added the tape to their collection. Their names are listed at

“Stuttering typically begins between the ages of two and five,” says Barry Guitar, Ph.D., professor and chair of Communication Sciences at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “It may begin gradually or suddenly, and many of these children outgrow their disfluencies naturally. However, if a child continues to stutter for several months, or appears to be frustrated by it, parents should seek assistance.”

Guitar appears in the video with four other nationally recognized experts in stuttering: Peter Ramig, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado at Boulder; Diane Hill, M.A., of Northwestern University; Patricia Zebrowski, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa, and Kristin Chmela, M.A., in private practice.

These experts address common concerns that parents have about their child, such as how to help the child at home and whether to seek the advice of a speech pathologist.

Strategies parents can use to help reduce stuttering are given throughout the tape and include reducing the number of questions they ask the child, focusing on taking turns during conversations, and making time to read or talk with the child in a relaxed manner.

“Parents are relieved to discover that they are not alone and that other parents share their concerns,” says speech pathologist Kristin Chmela.

“Stuttering remains a mystery to most people,” notes Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. “Watching a young child struggle to speak can be devastating. Our latest video is designed to reassure parents and families that many preschoolers stutter, that they can be helped, and that parents play a vital role in this process.”

For more information about stuttering and a list of specialists in your area, write the Stuttering Foundation, P.O. Box 11749, Memphis, TN 38111-0749, call 1-800-992-9392, or visit

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!