Fluency Information for Parents & Teachers
In speech therapy, fluency refers to how smoothly a person’s words flow during conversation. Most of us at one time or another have moments where we forget what we are going to say or have difficulty saying words. We also pause as we think of what we want to say and might say “um” or repeat a word several times as we speak. These are normal to hear in every day speaking and do not affect your ability to communicate a message. In young children (ages 3-6), dysfluencies can occur as a part of normal language development, but usually decline after the child develops vocabulary skills.
When disruptions in the fluency of speech are frequent and begin to disrupt a person’s ability to communicate verbally, it is referred to as dysfluent speech or stuttering. There are four main behaviors that are considered to be true dysfluent behaviors:
Sound Repetition Child says “n-n-n-never”
Part-Word Repetitions Child says “ba-ba-ba-by”
Broken Words: Child says “nuh-ever”
Secondary Characteristics examples: grimacing, tics
When these occur in isolation or occasionally, these are not cause for concern. When a person consistently produces speech marked by these characteristics in more than 10 per 100 words, then a person may be considered dysfluent. At school, these dysfluencies are an area of concern if the child has difficulty participating in discussions, conversations or developing & maintaining social relationships.
Speech Therapists help students develop slower speaking patterns and teach methods of speaking that will help reduce dysfluencies in conversational speech. Parents can foster good speaking habits in their children by following these suggestions: