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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 5 percent of preschool children nationwide have repetitions and prolongations of sounds severe enough to be of concern to their parents, according to the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation.
The foundation recently sent a copy of its DVD, “Stuttering and Your Child: Help for Parents,” to Oliver Springs Public Library.
The DVD, in English and Spanish, helps parents detect stuttering and take action toward helping their child.
The film 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.
“Stuttering typically begins between the ages of 2-5,” said Barry Guitar, professor and chairman 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,” he said.
“However, if a child continues to stutter for several months, or appears to be frustrated by it, parents should seek assistance.”
The DVD features Guitar and other nationally recognized experts in stuttering, including Peter Ramig of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Diane Hill and Kristin Chmela of Northwestern University and Patricia Zebrowski of the University of Iowa.
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 DVD 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," said Chmela, a speech pathologist.
“Stuttering remains a mystery to most people,” added Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation.
“Watching a young child struggle to speak can be devastating,” Fraser added. “This DVD is designed to reassure parents and families that many preschoolers stutter, that they can be helped, and how parents can play a vital role in this process.”
Books and DVDs produced by the 66-year-old nonprofit Stuttering Foundation are available free to any public library.