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Repeating Sounds, Syllables, or Words? Oh my!

Repeating Sounds, Syllables, or Words? Oh my!

Every parent wants to catch the first few words of their child. They are eagerly waiting for the time that their child can finally talk and express what they want to say through words. It is only normal to feel a bit warned and problematic after learning that they are finding it hard to speak when they are already at that age of talking. Stuttering is common to younger ones like those in preschool. But how would you know if the condition is warned for a professional check-in? Speaking of a professional in particular, a speech-language pathologist (SLP).

Stuttering is an abnormal interruption in the flow of speech by repetitions or prolongations of a sound, syllable, or by avoidance behaviors (ex. interjecting starter words “um”, “ah”, or avoid eye contact). However, individuals who stutter are normal, as they lack only the ability to express words fluently. This may arise from various reasons, the most common of which, is the fact, that at this point, children are eagerly learning how to talk.

normal development

This is a phase that all children go through as part of speech development. This situation is actually referred to as what professionals’ term psuedostuttering or dysfluency, which is only normal and must not raise warning signals. It transpires when the child is trying to imitate sounds and say words to express how they feel. Speaking is a new experience for them, so it is natural that they fumble with their words as they repeat syllables, substitute the sounds of words, take a pause in the process of saying difficult words or they have trouble saying what they are thinking.

You don’t need to worry because this is normal. All people have disfluent speech to some degree. However, if the case is causing problems, like the child feels intimidated in talking to others or lasting more than six months, then it’s time to seek a professional consult.  Out of all cases, only 1% of these children will continue to manifest this kind of problem, until they get older.


Please be aware that the real cause of stuttering has not yet been determined. Indeed, strategies can be taught to help the speaker compensate or modify their speech to become more fluent. Below are the common types of disfluencies a child will exhibit.

Repetitions Repeating a part of a word, whole word or phrase. Ex. “I-I-I-I want to go to the store”.
Prolongations Stretching out a sound in a word for a long timeEx. “Ssssssssssssomebody took my juice.”
Blocks Difficulty getting a word or part of a word to come out. This can result in pauses throughout speech.Ex. “She wants……to go……with us.”


common signs of stuttering

  • Usually begins between 2 and 6 years of age.
  • Stuttering runs in the family, leading researchers to believe that this condition can be hereditary.
  • Males are more likely to stutter than females.
  • Again, stuttering has lasted longer than 6 months.
  • Stuttering events are accompanied with secondary behaviors and/or physical tension.


An SLP can assess, diagnose, and treat stuttering. They will look at many factors, including family history, the type and frequency of the disfluencies, secondary behaviors and triggers. If intervention is recommended at that time, an individualized treatment plan of care will be established.

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