I get this question very often in my private practice. Many parents have observed in their young children (birth to age 5) a difficulty in forming fully fluent sentences. The task of forming coherent, perfectly articulated, and fluent language is a tall task and one that can take the whole of childhood to master. So, in many cases, stuttering in children or a disruption in their fluent speech is perfectly normal and not something that would require the attention of a speech therapist. Because stuttering is by far the most common type of speech dysfluency, I will focus today’s post on stuttering. However, there are several factors that parents should consider when faced with speech dysfluencies. These factors can very quickly give you, the parent, an indication of whether you would need to consult with a local speech therapist.
A multi-platinum singer, two-time ARIA Award winner, and guest judge on The Voice, do you know Megan Washington? As one of Australia’s most famous singer/songwriters, “Washington” as she’s called, is setting stages on fire all across the world. But, did you know that Megan Washington has suffered from a debilitating stutter since she was five years old? If you have not seen her TEDx presentation, you may have never heard Megan Washington stutter, nor guessed that public speaking was her greatest fear. Her experience, as with many, was that singing therapy for stuttering brought “sweet relief” from her speech impediment. It was the only time she felt her speech was fluent. Washington’s story recently became headline news as she revealed her long-time secret at a TEDx conference in Sydney earlier this year.
“To me, language and music are inextricably linked through one thing. And that thing is I have a stutter.”
Down Syndrome is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder and impacts a child’s development with regards to language, cognition and motor skills. Children with Down Syndrome routinely receive and benefit from speech-therapy for improvement of articulation, development of syntax, grammar and semantics. What most people don’t know is that many children and adults with Down Syndrome struggle to communicate due to disfluency, or a stutter. Though the two terms, stuttering and Down Syndrome might not seem to go together often, it occurs is as many as 45% of adults and 50% of children. Though research regarding best practices for treatment have been largely limited, a new study from the University of Alberta aims to change that.
We all know the brain works in mysterious ways, but every so often we are reminded of just how magical it is. This is particularly so when we examine it’s response to music in populations with Language disorders as a speech therapy technique. By now, you may have seen this video of American Idol contestant Lazaro Arbos’ audition. While his rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is astounding enough, watch what happens to his rather severe stutter when he begins to sing: