13 Sep Childhood Stuttering: Help for Stuttering Children Aged 2-7
He remembers being teased. He remembers being asked his name and standing there, eyes closed, not breathing, trying to get the simple sounds out of his mouth. “T– T– T– T– Tom,” he eventually would blurt out. Sometimes, by the time Tom Williams formed the sound of his own name, the person addressing him had walked away out of embarrassment, frustration or impatience. Tom is one of the estimated three million stutterers in the United States. Article by Dr. Jan Strydom
Stuttering is a problem as old as the human race itself. It is often accepted that Moses was a stutterer, although this is not stated explicitly in the Bible. The earliest stutterer that we know of was Demosthenes, the famous orator of Ancient Greece.
The life of Demosthenes is a unique story of a stutterer who through sheer perseverance became the most eloquent statesman of all time.
This remarkable man was born in Athens around 384 BC as the son of prosperous parents. Unfortunately his parents died while Demosthenes was still a very young boy. Although his father left enough money for his education, it was dissipated by his guardians. The result was that Demosthenes grew up in extreme poverty.
Apart from the fact that he stuttered, Demosthenes was a very timid, frail little boy with a thin, weak voice. Nobody, who knew him as a child, would ever have predicted that he would one day be a great orator! However, one day he heard in a court how a famous orator defended his case. The way in which this man could captivate his audience made such a deep impression on Demosthenes, that he decided there and then that he would also become such an outstanding orator, come what may.
Demosthenes’ first attempt to speak in a large meeting was met with derision. However, this merely served to strengthen his determination to overcome his problem. He practiced speaking with small pebbles in his mouth. He exercised his voice by making speeches on the beach above the noise of the waves. Hour after hour he walked to and fro on the beach, practicing to speak. He exercised and ran to strengthen his breathing. He often recited poems while running up and down the sand dunes.
He also worked hard to master the art of debate. He listened to the disputes of the garrulous Greeks on the streets, and then went home to work out counter-arguments for both sides.
Demosthenes’ perseverance was amply rewarded. Not only did he succeed in getting over his stutter, but he also became the orator that is still today held up as an example to all aspiring public speakers.
If the principles, according to which Demosthenes had worked, could have been discovered earlier, so that they could have been applied to help stutterers, stuttering would not have been the monstrous problems that it still is. Unfortunately, it so happens that there was only one aspect of Demosthenes’ method, which attracted so much attention, that the rest of what he did was ignored. So far, it has been generally accepted that it was the pebbles that he had put into his mouth that had helped him to overcome his stutter. Many stutterers have tried this, without, however, doing the other things that Demosthenes did. Naturally, they had no success.
Demosthenes succeeded in conquering his stutter, and since then thousands of other stutterers have done likewise. This should be enough to prove to anybody that it is indeed possible to overcome a stutter. Unfortunately it is true that the number of stutterers through the ages who did not succeed in becoming normal speakers is far greater.
The reason for this is self-evident. Despite intensive research, and a steady stream of innumerable books and articles that are being written about stuttering, the cause of this devastating problem has up to now remained clouded in mystery. As long as the cause of a problem is unknown, any effort to find a solution will remain nothing more than guesswork.
During my research for a doctorate — the subject was vocal pedagogy — I discovered the cause of a stutter. In this way I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a solution to a problem, which has remained a mystery for centuries. For reasons that will be explained below, in the case of an older stutterer, the problem is difficult to overcome. However, in the case of a child aged six (sometimes seven) and younger, the problem is relatively easy to solve. Of very great importance is the fact that stuttering can also be prevented.
Popular theories about stuttering
There are today three popular theories about the cause of stuttering. In the first of these it is held that stuttering is a symptom of a neurosis. It is believed that stuttering is a symptom of an emotionally disturbed personality. Such erroneous beliefs could easily result from the fact that the stutterer’s inability to move fluently through words and phrases often causes him to experience deeply a wide range of intense emotional reactions.
Most stutterers apparently feel that it is a disgrace to be a stutterer, and for that reason they become very sensitive about their difficulty. The experience of being blocked or not able to say what you want to say without being constantly interrupted by an annoying stutter can be very frustrating. A person who stands in front of another person, unable to say something he wishes to say to this person, would have to be psychologically very strong not to experience feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy, shame, frustration, depression and even fear and anxiety. The stutterer’s emotions may generate so much fear and anxiety that they can affect his attitude towards others and life in general. Like the tail that wags the dog, stuttering can alter one’s personality.
Stuttering fears can be of words or sounds, or of some persons, of certain situations, of the telephone, of saying one’s name, et cetera. When a stutterer’s fear is strong it builds up tension and he will stutter more often and more severely. Sometimes this fear can be so strong that it can drive the stutterer frantic and almost paralyze thought and action. Such fear or anxiety may prevent the stutterer from entering situations and experiences that he would otherwise have enjoyed. This can cause more shame and embarrassment, and the more frustrated he becomes, the more he is likely to stutter. So the stuttering is usually in direct proportion to the amount of fear that is present.
The role that fear and anxiety play in stuttering has caused many people to erroneously believe that the stutterer’s problem is caused by his fear and anxiety. It has already been pointed out that it is the other way round: the stutterer’s fear is caused by the fact that he knows that he will probably fail when he tries to speak. It is this fear of failure that causes anxiety. All people sometimes experience this fear of failure. An example should illustrate the effect of fear on human performance in such stressful situations.
If one put a narrow plank on the floor and asked a person to walk across it, the task would not present any difficulties to most people. However, put the same plank between two buildings at the height of two stories, and then most people would be so paralyzed with fear of the height that they would be quite unable to walk across. If they were forced to do so, they would most probably fall off. Something similar happens to the stutterer. He is scared that he will stutter, thereby — as he believes — making a fool of himself, and therefore he is very tense when he finds himself in a situation where he is forced to speak.
If a person had a thorn in his foot, he would also experience fear and anxiety every time he had to step on that foot, because he would know that it would hurt. But nobody would attribute the fact that such a person limps when he walks to his feelings of fear and anxiety. When the thorn is removed, he will no longer limp, and will also no longer be afraid to step on the foot. Yet one is expected to believe that the stutterer’s “limp” when he speaks has its roots in fear or in some emotional conflict. The stutterer’s fear and anxiety will disappear if the stutter is removed. Therefore, the stutter is the cause of the psychological problem, not vice versa.
A second, widely accepted theory is that stuttering is an organic problem. People who hold this theory believe that the cause of stuttering is something physical. It is this belief that in the past lead to operations on the tongue, instruments being placed in the mouth, and the use of many kinds of drugs. At one time it was widely accepted that stuttering was associated with handedness. Nowadays it is believed that the brain is in some way responsible. One such theory states that the stutterer hears predominantly with his left ear, whereas in the normal speaker the right ear is dominant. Professor Martin Schwartz of America believes that all stutterers stutter because of a spasmodic contraction of the vocal chords, or a “laryngospasm,” as he calls it. He devised a very clever technique — “air flow technique” — to enable the stutterer to let out a little puff of breath every now and then. In this way the vocal cords are forced apart, and then the stutterer can continue speaking. However, three objections can be raised against this technique. First, it merely replaces one unnatural method of speech with another equally unnatural method, and second, it is not true that all stutterers stutter because of a laryngospasm. Third, the airflow technique is also so difficult to master that is it only of use to adults.
Unfortunately for the stutterers, all these ideas, ranging form the simple to the very complex, and the — sometimes quite bizarre — treatments based on them have all lead to nothing.
Of the three theories that are now popular, the third comes closest to the truth. This theory holds that stuttering is somehow a learned behavior. This simply means that stuttering is a bad habit. But is has never been explained how or why the bad habit began, nor precisely what it consists of. It has never been determined exactly what it is that the stutterer has learned to do wrong. If that could be discovered, stuttering would immediately cease to be the baffling puzzle is has so far been.
If stuttering is a learned behavior, it implies that it can be corrected. The stutterer merely stutters because he is doing something wrong. If he stops doing whatever he is doing wrong, he will also be able to speak fluently, like most other people. In the case of an adult or schoolchild (usually from age seven or older), this is of course easier said than done. When a person has been stuttering for some years, it is never easy to get rid of the bad habit, because stuttering is a particularly tenacious habit. The example of the thorn in the foot will again make this clear. If a person limps for some years due to a thorn in his foot, he will not stop limping immediately if the thorn is removed. He will gave grown so used to this strange way of walking that it will be difficult to break the habit. It is therefore usually much easier to help a child of six (sometimes seven) and younger to overcome the problem. The habit is still not too deep-rooted, and can therefore be broken relatively easy.
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What all stutterers have in common
If the cause of a stutter cannot be removed, it is virtually impossible to help the person to get over his problem. Unless the thorn is removed, the person with a thorn in his foot will never stop limping. That means that it must be discovered exactly what it is that the stutterer is doing wrong.
One of the most astounding facts about stuttering is that any one person’s stutter appears to be different from any other person’s stutter. One person would stutter only on certain words, another would stutter more severely. The person who does not stutter very much will probably have periods when he stutters often, whereas the severe stutterer may experience periods when he stutters noticeably less. Some people stutter when they are talking but not when they are reading aloud; others stutter both when speaking and reading. Some would repeat certain sounds (usually initial sounds) several times, or prolong certain sounds before the word is said. Others may experience complete “blocks” when no sound is coming out at all. During these blocks, some may exhale strenuously and voicelessly, without being able to overcome the block.
Apart from these apparent differences between stutterers, there are often several other features added to the speech production. These may consist of gestures or movements of various kinds, such as jerking the head or throwing it backwards or forwards, clenching the fists, twisting or stamping a foot, slapping the knee with the hand, licking the lips, nasal snorts or sniffs, closing the eyes, et cetera. It is especially such oddities as these, which people find irritating when listening to a stutterer and which cause the most embarrassment to the stutterer himself.
All these features, however, must be regarded as no more than accessory phenomena. They are similar to the flailing arms of a falling person. Basic to the condition of such a person is that he has lost his balance, and the flailing arms are only a symptom of his efforts to regain his balance. Similarly, basic to the stutterer’s condition is that the vocal sound tends to stop, and these accessory features are simply symptoms of his effort to get the flow of sound started again.
That then is the characteristic that is common to all stutters: the flow of vocal sound tends to stop. This can only mean that there must be something wrong with the way in which the stutterer produces the sound of his voice. If stuttering is a learned behavior, as was previously suggested, this must then be the answer to the question what it is that he has learned to do wrong. The stutterer has learned to produce the sound of his voice in an unnatural and incorrect manner. Stuttering is therefore strictly speaking not a speech problem, as is commonly believed, but a voice production problem.
If this is true, how is it possible that such a simple fact has so far remained undiscovered? If one studies the literature on the subject of voice production, the answer becomes obvious: there are a large number of conflicting theories on the functioning of the human voice. In fact, one can safely state that so far nobody really knew how the human voice works. Unless one knows this, it is impossible to see what it is that the stutterer is doing wrong.
Because there is so much uncertainty about the functioning of the human voice, one can imagine that there will probably be many people with a complete misconception about the way in which the sound of their voices is produced. This means that there are probably few who really use their voices correctly. This is also the reason that there are so many people with vocal problems. Some sources maintain that up to 76% of schoolchildren have vocal problems. A large percentage of adults also display symptoms of voice problems. Some people get hoarse very quickly when they speak. Others find that their throats get sore. Still others may develop nodules on their vocal chords. With some the improper use of their voices may assume such proportions that they find it impossible to maintain a steady flow of sound when they speak. They become stutterers.
How does the human voice function?
Without breath it is impossible to produce vocal sound. This is a fact that cannot be denied. There is still much uncertainty, however, on the question how the outflowing breath is converted into vocal sound. The reason for this is obvious. Because the voice is hidden inside the body, it is impossible to observe it while in actual operation, which makes if difficult — if not impossible — to establish empirically which organs are those responsible for human sound production. If one wished to discover which organs of the body really are the vocal organs, the only safe approach would be to discover an irrefutable fact about the human voice, and to use that as a point of departure for a study on the voice.
“What exactly is the human voice?” If one could find an acceptable answer to this question, if one could conceive a feasible definition of the voice, such an irrefutable fact about the voice might emerge from that. Most works on the voice start with the so-called “physiology of the voice.” In most of these, no attempt is made at defining the voice in any way. Some do refer to the voice — albeit in passing — as an instrument, sometimes even as a musical instrument. However, no attempt has ever been made to exploit to the full the enormous possibilities locked within this seemingly unimportant reference.
What is the human voice? An answer to this question that would probably be found adequate by most people is the following: “The human voice is a sound producing mechanism, capable of producing musical sounds.” Granted, the voice is also capable of producing sounds of a decidedly unmusical nature, but so is any musical instrument.
This definition would fit any musical instrument, if one would replace the words “human voice” with “musical instrument.” The only conclusion that can possibly be drawn from this is that the voice must then also be a musical instrument, a fact often alluded to by many other writers on the subject.
The human voice is a musical instrument
This is the irrefutable fact that we were looking for and that we needed as a point of departure for our study on the voice. If the human voice is a musical instrument, that means that we can now learn a lot about the voice by studying other, more readily accessible instruments. That it is impossible to get at the voice itself because it is hidden inside the body need no longer deter us: we can substitute another musical instrument as our object of study. We could select any musical instrument for our study. However, seeing that we are going to conduct some experiments with the chosen instrument, it is best to choose one that will be readily available to most people. Most people should be able to get hold of a guitar.
If you pluck one of the strings of a guitar, you would hear an agreeable musical sound. The question is now: exactly what is it that produces the sound? Most people would answer that it is the string that makes the sound. It is easy to test whether this is so by removing the string from the guitar and stretching it over a piece of stick or bamboo. If previously it was the string alone that made the sound when it was in the guitar, there should now be very little or no difference when the string, drawn tight over the stick, is plucked. However, one finds that the string now produces virtually no sound at all. When the string, drawn tight over the stick, is plucked, it is possible to hear only a faint vibration. If the stick with the vibrating string is pressed on the box of the guitar, however, one hears almost the same sound that one could hear previously with the string still in the guitar.
The implication is that the sound of the guitar is not produced by the string only. The string produces a vibration, which is converted into an audible sound by the box of the guitar. This implies that there are three elements required in order to produce the sound emanating from any musical instrument:
- Something which causes something else to vibrate — in the guitar, it is the finger which plucks the string;
- The thing that vibrates — in the guitar, the string;
- Something which can convert the vibrations into audible sound — in the guitar, the box.
Further investigation would convince one that these three elements are essential to all musical instruments. For example, in the piano we have a hammer hitting a string, causing it to vibrate, and then the soundboard of the piano converting these vibrations into audible sound. In a wind instrument like the trumpet, it is the player’s breath that causes his lips, tightly pressed against the mouthpiece of the trumpet, to vibrate, and the pipe of the trumpet converts these vibrations into audible sound.
It is very important to note that the thing, which converts the vibrations into audible sound, is always made of some hard material, like wood or metal. Any soft material will not serve the purpose. For example, if one would remove the sound board of the piano and put a piece of cloth in its place, the piano will not produce the same sound as before when a note is struck.
As we have previously discovered that the human voice is also a musical instrument, the three elements referred to must of necessity also be essential to the voice. Yet one is expected to believe that, according to the most popular theory on human voice production, the vocal chords produce both the vibration, and is also alone responsible for all the sound! With such erroneous ideas about the voice, it is no wonder that the cause of stuttering has so long remained a mystery.
Let us now consider the voice in relation to the three elements. First, the thing that causes something else to vibrate, must in the case of the voice be the breath, just like in all wind instruments. This designates the voice beyond any doubt as a wind instrument — although there are many writers on the subject who maintain that the voice was a string instrument. Second, the thing that vibrates must be the vocal chords. There must also be a third substance that converts the vibrations of the vocal chords into audible sound. Most writers on the subject, however, maintain that the vocal chords are at the same time the vibrating and the sound producing body. Some say that the vocal sound emanating from the chords is amplified by the throat and mouth cavities. However, we have already mentioned that the sound-producing element must be of some hard material. The throat and mouth, which are of soft material, cannot amplify, let alone produce any sound.
Having got as far as this, it is now quite simple to conclude what must be the thing that converts the vibrations of the vocal chords into audible sound. It must be situated above the vocal chords, because the breath-stream must flow into the sound box, just like when the trumpeter blows into the pipe of the trumpet. Furthermore, it must be of hard material. This leaves us with only one possibility: the hard, bony skull.
With people who are able to use their voices very well, like opera singers, it is possible to feel a pronounced vibration when you touch their heads — especially their foreheads — while they are singing or speaking.
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The role of the skull in voice production
By this time it should be clear why a person stutters. He has learned to make poor use of his skull as a sound-producing instrument, and for that reason it sometimes happens that the stream of sound stops while he is speaking. As soon as he has been taught to use his skull properly, this would not occur any more. It is also now clear why the cause of stuttering has remained a mystery for so long. The role of the skull in the production of the vocal sound has so far been unknown.
For the skull to be able to perform its sound-producing function, the outflowing breath must come into direct contact with the skull. This means that the stream of breath must not flow out directly through the mouth, but must first be pushed up behind the uvula into the sinus cavities, through which direct contact between the vibrating breath and the skull is then effected. Audible sound is then produced.
It is important to note that no sound is produced without direct contact between the outflowing breath and the skull. This is what happens when a person whispers. All the breath flows out directly through the mouth, without coming into contact with the skull.
Experts on stuttering have so far been mystified by the fact that stutterers can whisper and sing without stuttering. The reason for this should now be clear. When a person whispers, no vocal sound is produced, and therefore there is no flow of sound that can stop, causing the person to stutter. When a person sings, there is a slightly stronger and firmer pressure behind the outflowing breath stream and then there is less of a tendency for the flow of sound to stop.
Why the onset is usually between the ages of three and five
The “normal” speaker speaks with sufficient pressure behind the outflowing stream of breath, so that enough breath is pushed up into the sinus cavities to produce vocal sound. Every child is born with the natural ability to do this. This is why no child stutters when he begins to speak. According to statistics most children start stuttering between the ages of three and five years. This also proves that stuttering is not an inborn problem, but a learned behavior. The question now to be answered, however, is what causes the child to speak with insufficient pressure behind the outflowing stream of breath? The answer might surprise you.
When all or most of the outflowing breath is pushed up into the sinus cavities, the resultant vocal sound has a relatively loud, ringing quality. When they are still small, all children speak with this “loud,” ringing quality in their voices. Usually, parents are so excited when their child starts speaking that at first they do not mind that the sound of the child’s voice is initially rather loud.
Unfortunately in Western civilization most people believe that is it “unrefined,” even “uncivilized,” to talk loudly. Therefore, children have to be taught to speak softly, because this is supposedly more refined and civilized. Therefore, after the initial excitement about the child that can now talk, when their children are about two or three years, many parents are intent on toning down the child’s voice, so that the child will learn to speak in a more “refined” manner. However, the only way in which the child can produce a softer sound is by producing it in a manner that differs from the natural one in which he has so far been producing his voice. This means that he has to speak with less pressure behind the breath stream, so that less breath will be pushed up into the sinus cavities, thereby producing less sound.
As a result of the idea that it is “refined” and “civilized” to speak softly, many parents themselves speak softly. Children are born imitators, and especially during their preschool years they slavishly follow the examples set by their parents. Even without insistence from the parents, therefore, some children follow their parents’ example and start speaking softly.
Once the child has learned to speak with less pressure behind the stream of breath, the parents are happy that the softer sound is now more “refined.” The resultant manner of voice production is dangerous, however, and can lead to all kinds of vocal problems, among others also stuttering. The following experiment should illustrate why speaking softly is a dangerous method of speech.
Open a tap completely, and then try to stop the flow of water with the thumb. You will find this to be impossible. Close the tap a little, so that a mere trickle of water flows out. Now you will find it quite easy to stop the flow of water with your thumb. In the same way, if a person speaks with too little breath pressure so that the flow of breath to the skull — and thereby the volume of sound — is reduced, it can quite easily happen that the flow of breath stops completely, in which case no sound will be produced.
It should now be clear to you why Demosthenes was successful in his efforts to get rid of his stutter. You noticed that Demosthenes did exercises and ran daily to strengthen his breathing. These exercises made him stronger, so that he was able to speak with stronger breath pressure. He also walked on the beach and practiced speaking over and over. You will remember that it was stated that Demosthenes was a “timid” little boy. This must imply that he spoke very softly. A person who speaks loudly will not be described as timid. When he walked on the beach, the noise of the waves in his ears caused him to speak louder. This, together with the regular exercise, helped him to speak with stronger breath pressure. That was why he succeeded in overcoming his stutter.
When they are forced to speak softly, with some children this is sufficient to let them become stutterers. In other cases, however, the real onset of the stutter is brought on by tension or some traumatic experience. With others, another factor may also play a role. Many children go through a so-called “disfluent” stage. Because their knowledge of language is still uncertain, they often start a sentence without knowing in advance how to finish it. Along the way they have to somehow gain time in order to think what to say. Then it sometimes happens that certain words or sounds are drawn out or repeated, sometimes even several times. Some parents become very anxious about this, and continually criticize the child on his speech. These parents will maintain that they do not criticize their children in any way. However, when a person quotes sentences like the following, they often recognize their own reactions to the child’s disfluency:
“Now, first think what you want to say!”
“Say it again slowly!”
“Take a deep breath before you start speaking!”
Such criticism causes the child to become excessively sensitive about his speech, and may give them the idea that there is something wrong with his speech.
The implication of everything that has so far been said is that parents should not interfere with the way in which children produce the sound of their voices. Naturally, children must be corrected on language and pronunciation errors. That is something which the child does wrong, and which he must learn to do correctly. However, every child is born with the natural ability to produce the sound of his voice correctly, and by interfering with that a parent makes something wrong that was right.
What to do to stop your preschool child from stuttering
With most children aged six (sometimes seven) and younger it is still relatively easy to help the child to learn to speak “normally” again. He only has to be taught to produce the sound of his voice in the natural manner again.
Pretend to be deaf: Your child must again learn to speak naturally, which is loudly. If you have so far been in the habit of reprimanding your child on what you regard as too noisy speech, you must stop this immediately. Do the opposite of what you have been doing so far. Start now to encourage your child to speak louder. When your child speaks to you, you must pretend to be a little deaf. Especially when he stutters, your reaction must in no way give the impression that there is anything wrong with his speech. Cup your hand behind your ear and say: “Can you say that a little louder, I can’t hear you!” The implication is that there isn’t anything wrong with the child, but with you. You are a little hard of hearing. Do this every time that your child speaks to you and speaks too softly, and not only when he stutters. Remember that you have to get him into the habit of speaking loudly again. If you only pretend to be deaf when he stutters, he will quickly get wise to this, and then he will again experience this reaction as a reproach because he stutters.
Get a set of earplugs for every member of the family. Not only your child, but also every member of the whole family must use the earplugs. You stuttering child must wear the earplugs as often as possible. The parents and all other children in the family only need to wear them when they are in the company of the stutterer. When the whole family is at home together, everybody should therefore have a set of earplugs in his or her ears.
The result of this will be that everybody, including the stutterer, will start talking louder. This should enable your stuttering child to regain what he has lost through the interference in his manner of voice production. In most cases, this will be sufficient to help a preschool stutterer to speak normally again.
When your child stops stuttering, you should not be in too much of a hurry to stop using the earplugs. If you stop using them too quickly, a relapse may occur. A period of at least three months is advisable. After that, it should be safe, provided that you never again force your child to speak softer. If he does find himself in situations where speaking loudly is truly inappropriate, don’t tell him to speak softer. Tell him to whisper instead.
What to do when your child is already of school-going age
Stuttering is a difficult problem to overcome in the case of an older stutterer. As already explained, if a person has a thorn in his foot, he will limp until the thorn has been removed. However, if he limps for ten of fifteen years with the thorn in his foot, he will go on limping even if the thorn is removed. After having limped for so many years, it will require much effort to get rid of the habit. The same is true of stuttering. After stuttering for so many years, the stutter becomes a habit. Moreover, it is a habit that can cause much tension, frustration and inner conflict. In some cases, the years of misuse of the voice can eventually also cause damage to the vocal cord muscles, causing them to contract spasmodically — the so-called “laryngospasm” mentioned above. It is relatively easy to diagnose if physical damage has already been done to the vocal cords muscles. When a stutterer only stutters on words that start with a consonant — like “some,” “never,” “dog,” “cat,” etc. — and never on words starting with vowels, it can mostly be accepted that there is no physical vocal damage. However, the stutterer who goes into a “complete block” when attempting to say “I am,” very possibly has already suffered physical damage to his vocal cords, as a result of years of misuse.
In cases of older children, in order to rid the child of the habit of stuttering, it is usually necessary to follow a structured program. Unfortunately the facilities available on the Internet do not allow a demonstration of this program. However, even in cases of older children, the above-mentioned advice (“What to do to stop your preschool child from stuttering”) has shown to be sufficient to overcome a stutter IN SOME CASES. I therefore encourage you to give it a try. In the case of a preschool stutterer, this method is often effective in ridding the child of his stutter in a remarkably short time. However, when dealing with an older child — i.e. one who is already in school — even in those cases where this simple method proves successful, it usually takes considerably longer before the child is completely rid of his stutter.