If You Have a Patient Who Stutters…

Stuttering can be severely disabling socially, professionally, and psychologically. Even “mild” stuttering can pose significant issues. The National Stuttering Association is a valuable resource to anyone who stutters, regardless of age or severity. Our organization maintains and supports a variety of programs for children, teens, and adults who stutter including:

Local Chapters that bring together people who stutter, for support, encouragement and empowerment

Publications including newsletters, booklets, books, and our Information for Physicians Pamphlet that help educate people who stutter, as well as enlighten professionals and the general public about stuttering

Annual Conference that brings together hundreds of people who stutter, their families and professionals from around the country for a time of sharing, learning, and support.

Pediatricians and family physicians are the first professionals that parents turn to when they have concerns about their child’s stuttering. Unfortunately, many pediatricians and family physicians are unfamiliar with childhood stuttering and are unable to provide parents with the appropriate advice and information.  The NSA has created a brochure - Childhood Stuttering: Information for Pediatricians and Family Physicians - specifically for pediatricians and family physicians that is full of useful, concise information that will be extremely helpful to pediatricians answering questions from parents about their child’s stuttering.

We’ve also provided plenty of resources on this site including basic stuttering information for physicians.  Need more in-depth detail?  We’ve provided that as well.

Pediatrician Outreach Program

An outreach program is currently underway to educate pediatricians and family physicians about childhood stuttering who are in a unique position to provide accurate information to parents of children who stutter. With the correct information and a basic understanding of childhood stuttering they can also assist parents in making the appropriate choices regarding a speech evaluation with a speech-language pathologist. Recent studies indicate that early intervention with speech therapy increases the likelihood of a child developing normal fluency. Therefore it is critical that pediatricians and family physicians have the most current and accurate information about stuttering that is available. Early intervention can have a profoundly positive impact on a child who stutters.

The NSA has a small group of volunteers who are reaching out to pediatricians in their areas to provide them with this  brochure. Also,we encourage parents to speak with their child’s SLP, who may be willing to place some brochures in their office waiting room. If you would like to help get the word out, please contact, Stephanie Coppen at SCoppen@WeStutter.org. Together we CAN make a difference!

Click on the FREE NSA brochure above to read the brochure in its entirety and to get ordering information.  You can also get more information about NSA opportunities by clicking on NSA Resources, by calling us at 800-937-8888, or by emailing us at Physicians@WeStutter.org.

Important Information About Children Who Stutter

Current evidence suggests that stuttering is a neurologic, rather than a primary psychological disorder, affecting areas of the brain concerned with hearing and speech. It typically appears early in life soon after a child begins speaking. The impact of stuttering is commonly underestimated. Even seemingly “mild” stuttering may have significant long-term psychological and social consequences. The so-calledcovert stutterer, for example, is struggling constantly to replace “hard” words with “easy” words on-the-fly, fearing the moment when a word cannot be substituted, such as when reading aloud or when introducing oneself, at which time their stuttering will be exposed.

Recent studies indicate that early intervention is crucial to the remediation of stuttering by enabling “rewiring” of the still-developing and malleable neurologic pathways in young children. Though the majority of preschool children who seem to stutter might eventually outgrow it, the “watchful waiting” approach may actually cost the rest of those children the opportunity to derive maximum benefit from speech therapy, as the aberrant pathways are ultimately hard-wired into place. There is no consistently reliable long-term cure for stuttering once an individual has reached adolescence.

Children who might be starting to stutter should be referred promptly for further evaluation, to a speech-language pathologist who specializes in that area. The National Stuttering Association can help you or the child’s parents identify such resources in your locality. Contact us by email at Physicians@WeStutter.org or 800-937-8888.

We are grateful that you have taken the time to learn more about stuttering through our website and our publications. We could not do our work without your interest and your help.  We also hope that you will take the next step and become a subscribing member of the NSA. This will ensure that you continue to receive the latest information about stuttering. Your participation in the NSA will directly help your patients who stutter — and it ensures that we will be able to bring our message of hope, dignity, empowerment, and support to even more people who stutter and their families.

There are approximately three million people who stutter in the United States alone — and we have reached only a small fraction of them so far. You can also help us to get the word out to others by sharing what you have learned about stuttering. You can refer children who stutter and their families, other physicians, and even speech-language pathologists to the NSA so they can learn ways of improving the lives of children who stutter. Together, we really can make a difference.

For more information on how you can help the NSA, contact us at Physicians@WeStutter.org or 800-937-8888.

Your support can help us brighten the world for people who stutter.

Note: Original material contributed by Jeff Menkes, MD, FACEP
Clinical Instructor, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT
Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford, CT
Department of Internal Medicine, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT

Republished March 2008