Suja Natara­jan

Mother & Baby - - BABY & TODDLER -

“WHEN my son Pratham was two-and-ahalf years old, he re­peated a few words like ma-ma-mamma. Al­though I found it cute ini­tially, I didn’t find it nor­mal when he was un­able to say cer­tain words cor­rectly. It was too early for us to judge be­cause he was young, and just learn­ing to talk. But, the prob­lem only grew with time,” re­mem­bers Mum­bai-based Sonal Dhadda. Stut­ter­ing af­fects peo­ple of all ages. The on­set of this con­di­tion oc­curs more in young chil­dren. “Stut­ter­ing is a dis­or­der where there is dys­flu­ency of speech like that of stuck type-writer keys. Oc­ca­sional stum­bling of words does hap­pen in tod­dlers when they’re ex­cited, up­set or tired. How­ever, speech dys­flu­en­cies af­fect more than 10 per cent of chil­dren aged two to five years,” says Ban­ga­lore-based Var­sha Jevoor, speech lan­guage pathol­o­gist, Winds O’ Change. Con­trary to pop­u­lar view that stut­ter­ing is an ef­fect of an emo­tional prob­lem, there are sev­eral fac­tors that could lead to stut­ter­ing. “De­vel­op­men­tal, neu­ro­genic and psy­chogenic are three types of stut­ter­ing. De­vel­op­men­tal stut­ter­ing oc­curs any­time be­tween one­and-a-half to three years be­cause this is the time when there is rapid speech de­vel­op­ment in a child. Neu­ro­genic stut­ter­ing oc­curs due to in­jury (head in­jury, stroke, etc.) or dis­ease in the ner­vous sys­tem, and emo­tional trauma causes psy­chogenic stut­ter­ing,” says Var­sha.

THE RED FLAGS

Your preschooler’s speech may, at times, be pep­pered with repet­i­tive sounds of a word be­cause his mind is busy learn­ing to voice his thoughts with sounds or words. How­ever, watch out for few in­di­ca­tions. “The child re­peats a part of a word like ‘pi-pi-pi-pic­nic’ in­stead of the whole word or pro­longs a word or part of a word, like ‘baaaaaaaaa-ball’ in­stead of ‘ba-ba-ball’. He could dis­play ten­sion in the voice, face or neck, avoid eye con­tact or ap­pears frus­trated with the in­abil­ity to say a word. The strug­gle may also show up in the form of blink­ing of the eyes, pound­ing fists, stomp­ing legs or turn­ing away while at­tempt­ing to say the word or sub­sti­tute words or stop talk­ing in the mid­dle of a sen­tence be­cause he might stut­ter,” says

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