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Fluency & Stuttering Therapy Program

Stuttering affects the fluency of speech. The condition is characterized by disruptions in the production of speech sounds, also called "disfluencies." A person who stutters may repeat parts of a word (“muh-my”), whole words (“my my”), prolong sounds (“mmmmy”) or experience a blockage of speech when no sound comes out (“m---my”). People who stutter may also exhibit secondary characteristics while stuttering such as blinking their eyes, breaking eye contact, tensing the muscles in their mouth or moving their hands, feet or head. Stuttering begins during childhood and, in some cases, lasts throughout life.

About three-quarters of children who exhibit stuttering in their preschool years will outgrow it. Because of this, for young children, it is important to determine whether their stuttering is a temporary condition or a long-term issue. Evaluations are completed by speech-language pathologists who are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of stuttering. We offer evaluations and therapy for preschool, school-age and adolescents who stutter.


Evaluations

Stuttering is complex and multi-factoral disorder. Therefore, we evaluate all components of the disorder—affective, behavioral and cognitive—and design treatment based on a patient’s individual needs.

Evaluating a young child for stuttering requires a series of tests, observations and interviews designed to estimate the child's probability of persisting with stuttering. No single factor can determine a child’s long-term outlook. Instead, a range of factors are considered and must be balanced amongst each other, including:

  • Family history of stuttering
  • Length of time stuttering has been happening
  • Severity of the stuttering
  • Whether stuttering has been consistent or has increased steadily over time
  • Presence of other speech or language disorders
  • Whether the child has a sensitive temperament
  • Whether the child or the family have strong fears or concerns about stuttering

If a child exhibits risk factors to continue stuttering or if their stuttering impacts their willingness to communicate, therapy may be recommended. In cases where a child does not possess risk factors and/or has a good prognosis for spontaneously recovering from stuttering, the family may be asked to implement a home program and return for a reassessment in a designated time frame, typically 2-3 months.

When evaluating school age children and adults, we assess the severity of the patient’s stuttering and the impact it has on their ability to effectively communicate and participate in daily activities. Following evaluations, individualized treatment plans will be generated and discussed with the patient and family.

Therapy Methods & Goals

Young Children

At Lurie Children’s, we believe a family-focused approach to treatment is an essential component of treating young children who stutter. As part of our preschool stuttering therapy, we provide instruction and coaching to caregivers on how to help young children increase their fluency and ease of speech, build self-confidence and develop effective communication skills.

A young child’s primary caregivers attend therapy, actively participate in sessions and collaborate with the speech therapist regarding their child’s progress and goals. In therapy, caregivers are taught strategies to help enhance their child’s fluency and promote positive communication skills. It is essential for caregivers to deliver the treatment learned in therapy at home with their child for them to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes.  

School Age Children & Teens

For children who are around age seven and older, our treatment approach integrates stuttering modification and fluency shaping goals to help the child reduce physical tension/struggle during moments of stuttering in order to produce more forward moving speech.

It is also important for patients to work towards becoming systematically desensitized to stuttering and adjusting their beliefs and attitudes regarding stuttering and overall communication. The ultimate goal is for patients to become confident and effective communicators, and engage more fully in desired activities and speaking situations.

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, first obtain an order or referral from your primary care physician and then call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC) to schedule.

Contact Us

To learn more about fluency and stuttering services at Lurie Children’s, please call us at 312.227.6320 or e-mail us at speechdepartment@luriechildrens.org and ask to be connected with our fluency and stuttering specialist. 

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