DVD available at local libraries to help parents of children who stutter

To the Editor:

Parents eagerly anticipate the moment when their child first begins to talk.  But for some parents, it is a time of anxiety because their child struggles to get words out.  As many as 5 percent of preschool children nationwide have repetitions and prolongations of sounds severe enough to be of concern to their parents.

A DVD in English and Spanish, “Stuttering and Your Child: Help for Parents,” put out by the Stuttering Foundation, helps parents detect stuttering and take action toward helping their child and is available at most public libraries. Some libraries have an older video format. 

These Albany County libraries have agreed to shelve the DVD: The Altamont Free Library in Altamont, the Bethlehem Public Library in Delmar, the
Guilderland Public Library in Guilderland, and the
Voorheesville Public Library in Voorheesville. 

Produced by the not-for-profit Stuttering Foundation, the film describes what kinds of stuttering young children may exhibit, how parents can help at home, and the role of a speech pathologist in evaluating and treating children who stutter.

“Stuttering typically begins between the ages of 2 and 5,” says Barry Guitar, Ph.D., professor and chair of Communication Sciences at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “It may begin gradually or suddenly, and many of these children outgrow their disfluencies naturally.  However, if a child continues to stutter for several months, or appears to be frustrated by it, parents should seek assistance.”

Guitar appears in the DVD with other nationally recognized experts in stuttering: Peter Ramig, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado at Boulder; Diane Hill, M.A., of Northwestern University; Patricia Zebrowski, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa; and Kristin Chmela, M.A., also of Northwestern University.

These experts address common concerns that parents have about their child, such as how to help the child at home and whether to seek the advice of a speech pathologist.

Strategies parents can use to help reduce stuttering are given throughout the DVD and include reducing the number of questions they ask the child, focusing on taking turns during conversations, making time to read or talk with the child in a relaxed manner, and accepting a child the way he or she is.

“Parents are relieved to discover that they are not alone and that other parents share their concerns,” says speech pathologist Kristin Chmela.

Stuttering remains a mystery to most people. Watching a young child struggle to speak can be devastating.  This DVD is designed to reassure parents and families that many preschoolers stutter, that they can be helped, and how parents can play a vital role in this process.

Books and DVDs produced by the 66-year-old Stuttering Foundation are available free to any public library. A library that will shelve them can contact the Foundation at 1-800-992-9392, e-mail info@stutteringhelp.org, or visit www.stutteringhelp.org or www.tartarmudez.org.

Jane Fraser, president

Stuttering Foundation

Memphis, Tenn.