Shortly after Blake’s 3rd birthday he began a slight stutter in his speech. I knew that some of this was developmental. I brought it up to the pediatrician during a visit just to be sure and he said that kids go through stuttering around this age because their brains are working at a rapid rate and their vocabulary is trying to catch up. I thought that was that. Nothing to be concerned with.
I brought it up to friends a few times, asking them if their child was having the developmental stutter. A few said yes, most said no. They told me not to worry, but I just knew the way their kid was stumbling through words was different than the way my kid was stumbling through words. Still, I decided to dismiss it, because sometimes us parents overact to things.
Blake has always been very articulate, from the time he started talking. He has a well-rounded vocabulary for one his age, and he expresses himself very well through words.
In the weeks and months that followed my initial concern kept on. His speech would sometimes stutter, others it would not. In the times he was stutter-free, his speech was fine and flawless. The bouts where it was evident were really bad. At times, he couldn’t get a sentence out, or even the first word. I started paying more attention, and truly noticed it worsening about a month ago.
People told me to stop worrying over it, that it was normal…but there was that mommy gut thing.
I decided to mention it the next time we were at the pediatrician, but said I would let it go until then.
Three weeks ago he went through spells where he would just stop talking altogether, saying things like “Momma, I just can’t get it out right now.” He frequently would get stuck on the first word, usually “I” (Or any sentence beginning with a question, and words like Did, What, Which, How, Who,etc). His voice would get high pitched and he’d almost try to sing the word, while elongating his face, or pursing his lips. But, when the word “I” wouldn’t come he started to change the “I” to “me”, where “I would like to outside”, would turn into “Me want to go outside.” And for a few weeks all the “I’s” became “me’s.”
Daycare noticed and asked me about it. I told them my concerns. They had the same.
We went to the pediatrician for a check up and I mentioned, like I said I would, about the stuttering. The doctor asked Blake about his toy car collection.
Doctor: (looking at his cars) “Which one is your favorite color car?”
Blake: “The red one. Wh-Wh-Wh-Whi-Whi-Wh……..”
I assume Blake was going to ask him which one was his favorite color as well, but he couldn’t get it out. So he stopped. And he told the doctor he couldn’t say it.
This was when I interjected and asked was this developmental, because it had been getting worse, and the doctor mentioned that there are several different types of stuttering and he doesn’t believe Blake’s to be developmental at this point.
I hated to hear that. I just knew we’d moved beyond the stage of developmental, and I was glad to know that the doctor noticed it as well, but a little saddened at the news for Blake. Not that stuttering is a bad thing, I just didn’t know much about it. Didn’t know what it would entail.
He wrote us a prescription to get an evaluation.
And that’s the road we’ve been on recently.
My smart little cookie has figured out how to not stutter by entering words at the beginning of the sentence that he knows do not cause him to stutter. This now means that nearly every sentence he speaks begins with the word “probably”, because it’s easy for him to say, I assume. He doesn’t stutter on it, at least.
That sentence, “Me want to go outside”, has now turned into “Probably I want to go outside”, because “I” being in the middle of the sentence, doesn’t seem to cause him difficulty.
As for the eval, I called around to many different speech and language offices that were recommended to us. Ultimately, I settled on an Orlando stuttering specialist. I’ve already learned a lot through this short journey we’ve been on so far, that Speech & Language (which treats things like delayed speech) and Stuttering are two separate entities altogether and you truly need someone who is well trained in stuttering to help.
Blake had his eval last week and after the results, he will be going to therapy twice a week for 6-8 weeks, at which time he will be reevaluated to see how to further proceed. His therapist told me that the good news is that we’ve caught it at the perfect time, because he has around an 80% chance of having few issues with the stuttering in his lifetime because we’ve caught it at such a young age. However, stuttering is, as I’m learning, a neurological disorder that never truly goes away. There is little known about stuttering, or why it happens, but no amount of therapy can truly take it away, but it will only teach strategies to help cope with the stuttering.
He’s started talking a little bit unintelligibly as well. I’m not really sure if this is related at all. Where he was once very articulate and pronounced, I feel like he’s mumbling more and more. It makes me sad for him, just because I know there’s been this regression. The therapist thinks he’s anticipating himself stuttering so he’s trying to get things out quickly, often times at the expense of not fully articulating.
I’ve been reading up on stuttering a lot since learning all of this. I find neurological disorders to be fascinating, but now I’m crazy about this one since it’s hitting so close to home.
It’s been cute so far to watch Blake after seeing the therapist. He refers to his stuttering words as “bumpy words”, and sometimes covers his mouth and tries to start over. He hasn’t been able to fully get through a word yet that he’s having difficulty with, and more often than not he just changes the word to something easier, but I’m loving the fact that he’s already trying to embrace a strategy he’s learned.
Meanwhile, we are being very patient with him, as patience is the key. We don’t rush him through what he’s trying to say, and we only encourage without interrupting.
It may be a short road, or a long road. I’ve no idea what’s in store, but I’m really thankful he’s getting the help he needs now.
We’ve barely even started all of this and I’m already proud of how he’s handling this.
I figure God gave him this for a reason, so we will just roll with it and know something good will come out of it!
He’s one special little guy. Stutter and all!