I loved The King’s Speech and strongly recommend it. But if you spent 10 minutes with my 4 year old you would learn that stuttering doesn’t always arise out of some sort of social self-consciousness or timidity that can be overcome by strength of will. People who feel sure of their “right to speak” (as a 4 year old is!) still stutter.
The same is true of Duncan. He has no self-consciousness about the way he talks. Thankfully, his stutter is mild and gradually improving so perhaps he never will. His stuttering began gradually–a stealthy slide into repetition, until one day I realized that he had been stuttering for months.
Kate’s descent into dysfluency has been sudden. One week last fall it was clear that she had started, this spring week has been a calamity; every day she is less fluent than before. No one understands the cause of stuttering. What has prompted Kate’s speech crisis? We will never know. Who is this thief stealing my children’s ability to speak? When will they get it back? All mysteries.
Often making progress on stuttering takes a lifetime of work and therapy; other times stuttering spontaneously resolves. Girls are less likely to stutter and also more likely to cease stuttering spontaneously. Kate currently attends Talking Time, a special district-sponsored once a week speech preschool for working on articulation (pronunciation). The teacher informed me this month that they don’t work with fluency (stuttering issues) so if Kate doesn’t improve over the summer, she won’t be eligible to attend in the Fall. I was tempted to say something bitter and defensive like: “Stuttering isn’t contagious! She won’t contaminate the other children!” But instead I just reminded myself that she has made excellent progress on articulation and probably won’t even need Talking Time’s help in the Fall. (The question of whether our home elementary school’s speech program will be helpful for her stuttering is something I’m less sanguine about.) Two years ago, I would have thought the level of vocabulary and articulation she manages today almost impossible for her. I wondered whether she was making any progress at all. Two years later I can say that things change. Here’s to change for the better!