Stuttering is a common speech disorder, which affects the fluency of speech. The person may experience problems such as trouble starting a word, phrase or sentence, hesitation before certain sounds have to be uttered, repeating a sound, word or syllable and/or prolonging parts of a word. Some physical symptoms associated with speech disruptions include struggling behaviours such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips.
Stuttering is a common problem in children, who are learning to speak. About 5% of children aged between 2 - 5 experience stuttering for a short period. Most children outgrow stuttering in a few months and in less than 1% of children, the problem may persist and progress from simple repetition of consonants to repetition of words and phrases.
Spontaneous improvement in speech occurs more often in younger children (preschool children). According to some studies, about 65% of preschoolers, who stutter, improve without treatment in the first two years of stuttering and about 74% recover by their early teens. Spontaneous improvement in speech is more often noted in girls as compared with boys. Recovery without treatment occurs less often in children, who stutter after five years. Only about 18% of the children, who stutter after five years, recover without treatment.
Timely and appropriate intervention in children can help them to overcome stuttering. Like any other disorder, however, improvement and time taken for improvement in every child is different. Some factors, which affect the time needed to overcome stuttering, include severity of the disorder, cause of the disorder, age at intervention, response to treatment, overall health and external support system (parents, school, etc).
Early intervention can help the child to achieve normal fluency. Young children with appropriate treatment may show significant improvement and may be left with little evidence of stuttering. If stuttering becomes established and the child has developed physical symptoms associated with speech disruptions such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips, the time needed to recover becomes longer. Some children with established stuttering may continue to stutter perhaps less even after treatment.