Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I can't say it, mom

S.Rube stutters. It started just before her 3rd birthday and has gone on for almost a year now. There's lots of jokes I could make about it, but, quite frankly, it isn't funny at all. It's heartbreaking. There are times when she is unable to say what she needs to say. and it breaks her. I can see it break her.

Our friends and family aren't sure what to do about it sometimes. I see this. It is an awkward moment for everyone when she is stuck on a word. And, persistent as she is, she doesn't give up the fight easily. She throws her whole body and soul into getting that sound out. If only she could get past that first syllable, you know the rest of the sentence is just sitting there waiting to stumble out overtop of everything else. I just wait, patiently, while maintaining eye contact. Sometimes I tell her that I'm listening and okay with waiting. Sometimes I comment on how "difficult", "bumpy", "rough" or "stuck" something was. But, mostly, we are working on positive reinforcement and commenting on how "smooth" or"easy" that sentence came out.

We have to model slow talking to her, and even add in the occasional "bump" of our own, so she doesn't feel too alienated by her issue. We have to lower our fluency expectation, so hopefully she'll lower the expectations she has for herself.

"They" don't know a lot about stuttering really. It's still a bit of a mystery. Some people believe that kids/people who stutter utilize a different part or process in the brain to form language than others. There is a fairly high percentage of stutterers who had parents or other family members with the same problem - so there is a genetic link for some. Stuttering also occurs alongside other developmental issues (none of which we see in S.Rube).

I remember stuttering, but my parents insist I didn't. I remember not being able to say my "w"'s if it was at a start of a sentence - like What, Who, Where, Why, When...... I remember being in class and having to come up with a different way to ask a question because I knew I wouldn't be able to get the "w" word out. I guess I passed it on to S.Rube.

There are some positive signs for me, though, that I see. One is that if you ask her a question, she will NOT stutter when she answers you 100% of the time. Another is that when she is playing on her own and pretending/role playing, she does NOT stutter at all. She rarely ever stutters when talking to T.Rube. It is when she is preparing something, more complex, to say to B.Rube or I. It is in her planning and thinking about it that the stutter happens. In spontaneous speech that doesn't require much/any thought, she is able to just let it out. This is a hopeful sign for me, because it fits into the theory that kids of this age just can't process their thoughts quick enough to get them out; that her mind and her words are ahead of her mouth's ability to speak them.

Something she'll outgrow then. The prognosis for stuttering is quite good. There aren't a lot of adult stutterers out there. 1% of the population stutters within the adult world. 5% of children stutter - 4% of them outgrow it.

If you want more information on stuttering, check this parent's manual out. Or you can contact me directly to ask more about the treatment that we're doing for it.

1 comment:

Magnolia said...

Carson went through the same thing at about 3 or 4. We did do speech therapy for about 6 months. By the time he got to Kindergarten he was good to go.
I think it was really just a developmental thing...he needed more time and has tons to say...not to mention the pressure of a mom who is a 'fast talker'...
I decided to get help for him the day he cried from the back seat of the car.."mommy- I can't get the words out".

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