Children often go through a stage in their speech and language development where they might get stuck on a word in a sentence and repeat it several times when speaking. This can be referred to as dysfluent speech or stuttering. It is typical for children to have moments in their development where they may repeat a word at the beginning of their sentence a few times (2-4 times), however other children may develop more dysfluent speech, where they repeat a single word several times (6+ times), draw out the initial sound of a word (e.g. “wwwwwwe” for “we”), and/or repeat the initial sound of a word several times (e.g. “t/t/t/t/ today we went…”). You may even notice that your child gets stuck on words as if they are struggling to push it out, where you see noticeable tension in their face or other unnatural body movements or behaviours. When it becomes an effort for your child to communicate or when the stuttering difficulty begins to interfere with your child’s communication with others, it may be useful to have a fluency assessment to determine whether your child’s dysfluent speech is typical or whether they would benefit from strategies to help improve their speech fluency.
What does a fluency assessment look like?
Gathering of a detailed client history: When assessing your child’s fluency, I will obtain a detailed case history from you as the primary parent or guardian. If your child is older, I may ask them questions. I might also gather information from your child’s teacher or other caregivers to see whether there is a difference in speech fluency depending on the situations or environments your child is in.
Obtaining Fluency Sample(s): During play, interaction and natural conversation with your child, I will obtain at least two fluency samples and write down the number of words that are stuttered. I will also document what type of dysfluency is observed: either a word repetition, sound prolongation, repetition of a sound or body movement associated with the dysfluencies.
Reading Passage (if old enough): If your child can read, I will also try to document the number of words that are stuttered on during reading.
What does therapy look like?
As seen with other speech and language therapy it is important to incorporate your child’s interests into each session. I will provide parents and caregivers with strategies that will help your child’s speech fluency. Your child will learn strategies to help change the “bumpy speech” into “smooth speech”, strategies to support more fluent speech and they will ultimately learn how to overcome fears or negative feelings associated with their stuttering behaviours.