Who knows where it came from, but Ayla has a little bit of a habit for disfluency. Stuttering. We first noticed it over six months ago; but as she was really learning to put together sentences, it did not alarm us. Her most common thing is to have trouble getting out "W" words and sometimes at the the start of a thought with "I". ("W-w-where are we going?") She has only shown concern a few times, saying "I don't speak very well."
That was enough to get me on the internet - searching for the right course of action. Do you ignore it? Do you correct it? Is it even an abnormal habit for a toddler? Turns out it is better to tackle stuttering long before the child becomes aware that it could be considered an "affliction". She isn't self-conscious, but it would only take a few smart-ass kids in school to change that. Thank God for our UPMC insurance which is supportive of preventive, early-childhood intervention.
Gregory and I went to Children's Hospital today for our second parent session for Ayla's slight stuttering/disfluency issues. The methodology is not to try to correct your child or make them get the words right. Despite what feels logical - it is counter productive to tell a child to sloooooowww down. It just makes them feel shamed and frustrated. We are learning how to slightly tweak our speaking habits at home, instead of making a huge deal out of it. On one hand we didn't cause the stuttering (it is mostly a cause of genetics and personality), but we can certainly help Ayla learn smoother ways of communicating.
It is going to be hard for us to change! First, we have to slow our rate of talking. Our cadence. And when I am paying attention, I notice that I talk very quickly. I start thoughts and then switch to another and get tripped over what I'm trying to say. It's not stuttering, but I'm sure it can sound scattered to a kid. It doesn't help that I am often impatient and trying to accomplish too many things at once. Secondly, we have to incorporate a different way of asking questions. The goal is to not make Ayla feel "on the spot" to speak at any time. No pressure. No time constraints. Instead of asking a direct question, it is recommended to speak abstractly like, "I wonder what you did with the babysitter" or "It would be nice if you said thank you" (instead of demanding that your child thank someone - which I do ALL the time!)
Ayla will attend a few one-on-one sessions with the speech therapist over the next couple of weeks. Of course, the stuttering has seemed to really clear itself up since we've gone to Children's - before any real treatment has begun. But the therapist warned that stuttering comes and goes regardless of therapy. All we can do is learn better ways of dealing with it.
The coolest part to look forward to is the secret room I get to watch the sessions in - through a one-sided mirror!!! It will be very interesting to see how Ayla behaves with another adult without knowing I can see her. Very science experiment!