Fluency Disorder

Disruptions in the normal flow of speech, such as stuttering.

What is Fluency Disorder?

A Fluency Disorder, often seen as stuttering, can affect the natural flow of speech in children. It’s more than just occasional hesitations or repetitions; it involves disruptions that impact the fluidity of communication.

Observation at Different Ages:

  • Early Years (0-5): In younger children, you might notice hesitations or repetitions in speech, such as repeating sounds, syllables, or words. Prolonged sounds, tense pauses, or facial tension may also be observed during attempts to communicate.
  • Elementary School (6-11): School-age children might exhibit more awareness of their speech difficulties. You may notice the child avoiding certain words, situations, or speaking altogether. Tension or frustration during speech attempts may become more apparent.
  • Teenage Years (12-14): Adolescents may show increased self-consciousness about their speech, potentially impacting social interactions and academic performance. Avoidance of certain speaking situations may persist, and the emotional impact could become more pronounced.


A speech-language pathologist (SLP) plays a crucial role in diagnosing Fluency Disorders in children. Diagnosis often involves:

  1. Assessment: The SLP assesses the child’s speech patterns, noting instances of repetitions, prolongations, or blocks. They also consider the child’s emotional reactions to speech difficulties.
  2. Observation: The SLP observes the child’s fluency in various communication settings, both structured and unstructured, to get a comprehensive understanding of the issue.
  3. Interviews: Parents are integral in providing information about the child’s speech development, environmental factors, and any potential triggers or situations where fluency challenges arise.

Therapy Plan:

Creating an effective therapy plan involves a tailored approach considering the child’s age and specific needs. Common elements include:

  1. Fluency Shaping Techniques: Introducing strategies like easy onset, gentle voicing, and slow speech to improve overall fluency.
  2. Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches: Addressing the emotional aspect by helping the child manage anxiety related to speaking situations, building confidence, and developing a positive mindset.
  3. Parental Involvement: Including parents in therapy sessions or providing them with strategies to support the child’s fluency development at home.
  4. Gradual Exposure: Gradually exposing the child to challenging speaking situations in a supportive environment to build resilience and confidence.
  5. School Collaboration: Working closely with educators to create a supportive environment for the child at school, fostering understanding and accommodating their needs.

What You Can Do:

  1. Encourage Open Communication: Create an environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their feelings about speech difficulties.
  2. Model Patient Communication: Demonstrate calm and patient communication, emphasizing that it’s okay to take their time when expressing themselves.
  3. Promote Positive Reinforcement: Praise your child for their efforts and successes, reinforcing the idea that effective communication is about more than just fluency.
  4. Participate Actively in Therapy: Engage with the SLP, attend therapy sessions, and implement recommended strategies at home to support your child’s progress.

Understanding and addressing a Fluency Disorder in your child is a collaborative effort. With early intervention and a supportive approach, most children can overcome these challenges and develop strong, confident communication skills.

Learn more about Fluency Disorders at ASHA