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Is it stuttering? "Mommy, mommy, I-I-I want to-go to-go to-go out and play." That's Matt, age 4. Is he stuttering or simply showing the 'normal disfluency' many children experience as speech develops?  


It's common for children between the ages of two and seven to repeat whole words or phrases and to interject 'uh' and 'um' in their speech. As children mature and sharpen their communication skills, these developmental lapses drop to very low levels.

But, the onset of stuttering often occurs during the same period of life. Thus, it may be difficult for you to determine if your child is beginning to stutter or just has normal disfluency.

You need to listen to your child and find out which of the two patterns of characteristics fits your child's speech better.

There is overlap between these two profiles. Children who stutter will have normal disfluency, and children with normal disfluency may sometimes stutter.

What you need to decide is what your child's speech sounds like most of the time.

If your child is beginning to stutter, schedule an evaluation with a certified speech-language pathologist. You should also seek the advice of this professional if:

• you or your child are concerned about his or her speech
• the disfluencies begin to occur more often, or
• the disfluencies begin to sound effortful or strained


Click here to learn more about preschool stuttering...