Clinical Stuttering Assessments and Treatment for Children

At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, assessments and treatment for stuttering vary on a case-by-case basis. Our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who specialize in stuttering design a care plan based on the needs of each child and family.

Diagnosing Your Child's Stuttering

A diagnostic assessment for stuttering at Children's includes a detailed interview with parents or caregivers. We also talk with the child if he or she is old enough.

Preschool and young school-age children

During a stuttering assessment, our SLP will:

  • Observe your child interacting with a family member. This gives the SLP the chance to listen to your child's natural speech patterns.
  • Have play-based interaction to assess your child's fluency in a range of situations.
  • Explore your child's attitudes toward communication and any other behaviors linked to stuttering.

Diagnosing stuttering in older children

In most cases, an SLP will interview your child to decide:

  • If he or she is a candidate for stuttering treatment.
  • How stuttering affects his or her social and learning opportunities.

After the assessment, we'll discuss the findings with you and your child and recommend proper treatment.

Stuttering Treatment for Children

After your child's stuttering assessment, we'll offer several individualized treatment options.

Treatment options for preschool children

Our SLPs may track your child's fluency and communication over time. Or they may suggest treatment right away.

We base stuttering treatment for preschool and young school-age children on a family-focused approach.

This approach for treating young children who stutter — published in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Journal — includes two main components:

  • Child-focused treatment that directly involves the child. The goals are to help children adjust their communication behaviors and develop healthy, self-worth.
  • Parent-focused treatment based on a parent/child training program (PCTP).

For parents, the PCTP:

  • Helps you adjust your communication behaviors and reduce your concerns about stuttering.
  • Teaches you techniques for aiding your child's fluent speech in the home.

After the PCTP, the stuttering treatment team may just track your child's progress. Or, if necessary, we may suggest more direct child-focused treatment.

» Download the study on parent-focused treatment methods for stuttering (PDF).

Stuttering treatment for school-age children and teens

Older children face unique challenges as they learn to cope with their stuttering.

As your child grows older, it's even more crucial to involve him or her in the decision-making process for treatment. If older children aren't ready for stuttering treatment, they'll likely make very little progress.

Most kids will reach a point in their lives when they do want help for their stuttering. So, it's better to wait until they're ready to take an active role in their treatment.

Forcing kids into speech-language therapy often fails and may cause them to foster negative thoughts about the stuttering treatment process.

Treatment for this age group mainly focuses on helping your child:

  • Speak more fluently.
  • Reduce physical tension or other behaviors that stuttering may cause.
  • Become more adept at speaking.
  • Develop healthy, confident attitudes.

While stuttering treatment for school-age children often begins in a one-on-one format, we also offer group treatment.

Fluency groups allow school-age children to:

  • Interact with peers around the same age and skill level.
  • Use learned fluency-enhancing methods in a range of activities.
  • Share their experiences, attitudes, and emotions.
  • Build confidence in communicating beyond the treatment setting.

Schedule Your Child's Appointment for Stuttering Services

To schedule a stuttering assessment and treatment at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, call (412) 692-5580.

You can schedule your child's stuttering assessment at any one the following locations:

We offer individual treatment for stuttering at all UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh locations. Locations for fluency group therapy vary based on patient need and scheduling.