Typical PreSchool Age Dysfluency

The Park Slope Speech Therapy website describes dysfluency in the following way: “ Disfluency is anything that impedes the forward movement of speech. So, when you stop in mid-sentence and say “Um” or “Er” that is disfluency. Or, if you say, “I want, um, I want that”, that is disfluency. Stuttering differs from disfluency in both quantity and quality.  Research indicates that preschoolers tend to be highly disfluent. They back up, repeat words and restate much of the time. In fact, one study found that in a language sample taken from a group of 3 year olds, every third word was repeated. What underlies this high degree of disfluency is the child’s developing language system.  In other words, the preschool child is developing vocabulary, grammatical structures and the ability to talk about abstract ideas and events. Because these skills are not yet fully developed, there is a lack of automaticity. The child might struggle to find the word he wants to say or the structure needed (as in past tense ‘ed’) to fully express his idea. So, it appears that for most youngsters, disfluency is part of the developmental process.  Now, we call these “normal” disfluencies, not stuttering. So what disfluencies raise a red flag during a speech evaluation? Sound repetitions (b-b-book) or prolongations (sssssoup) are indicative of a possible fluency disorder. Part word repetitions (be-be-because) are also not typical of developmental disfluencies. Remember, we also said quality and quantity. If a child occasionally repeats or prolongs a sound, that should not be a cause for concern.”

In addition the Stuttering Foundation of America describes normal dysfluency in preschool children as occasionally repeating syllables or words once or twice, li-li-like this. Dysfluencies may also include hesitancies and the use of fillers such as “uh”, “er”, “um”.  These dysfluencies occur most often between ages one and one-half and five years, and they tend to come and go. They are usually signs that a child is learning to use language in new ways. If disfluencies disappear for several weeks, then return, the child may just be going through another stage of learning.

So what you can you do if you notice dysfluency with your child?

• Try not to draw attention. In the same way that you wouldn’t correct your child’s pronunciation, don’t draw attention to these repetitions. Just listen attentively and be affirming. Try not to tell your child to relax or slow down.

• Be patient. Give your child your full attention with ample time to express him or herself. Your child will get the idea that he/she doesn’t have to hurry and you are interested in what he/she is saying.

• Slow down yourself. Answer him in a slow, relaxed rate of speech yourself, creating a calm environment in which to share. Use a “Mr. Rogers” voice. By your modeling a slower pace, you can affect his or her rate of speech.

• Don’t finish up. It’s easy for a parent to want to finish a child’s sentence but it is important to let him or her complete the thought. Interrupting is disruptive and will not promote fluency.

• Shorten up. Respond to your child with some shorter, less complex sentences, pausing between phrases.


Sensory Success for the Overactive Child

Sensory Success for the Overactive Child

With the cold weather in full force, many of us are finding ourselves indoors with the kids. Oftentimes all this indoor time, combined with fewer opportunities for outdoor gross motor play can lead to overactive kids. This is particularly true for children who may already struggle with sensory regulation issues, causing them to engage in sensory seeking behaviors. Fortunately, there are many activities that can be done in the home, that will be both fun and calming at the same time! Generally speaking, activities that involve slow, rhythmic movement and/or proprioceptive (“heavy work”) input, tend to be the most calming. Here a some examples and ideas:

Calming Activities:

Wall push-ups
Upper body weight bearing walks (ie: wheelbarrow walk, crab walk, bear walk)
Carry or Push heavy objects (moving a chair, carry a weighted backpack, carry a small bag of groceries, push a cart with toys and/or sibling inside!)
Play “make a sandwich” or “hotdog” game by rolling body up tightly in blanket or squishing between two pieces of bread (pillows).
Play with resistive materials including: clay, playdoh, theraputty, wet sand,
Go to playground when the snow is melted and choose a swing to practice some slow, rhythmic swinging in back-and-forth (linear) motion.
Indoor swing alternative – Make a hammock from a blanket and with an adult on either side, swing your child back and forth
Deep pressure massage can be a very powerful tool. In general its best to avoid light touch (including “tickling”) and unexpected touch.
Classical music can also have a calming influence on many children
Seating options that can be calming: beanbag chair, or slow rocking in a rocking chair

sensory retrueat

For children who benefit from this calming activities, it can be helpful to have a space in your home just for this type of play, a “sensory retreat”. By having a designated area, it will be ready “as needed” , the moment you need it. It can be as simple and small as a separated room corner or large open box, equipped with large pillows, and a few stuffed animals. For a more comprehensive instructions and ideas for setting up a “sensory retreat”, follow this link….http://asensorylife.com/sensory-retreats.html