Parents who notice their young child beginning to stutter should seek help right away; and help is available at most public libraries.
In the past, experts incorrectly believed that paying attention to a child's stuttering would exacerbate the situation.
It was even feared that offering the child therapy "would arouse the child's awareness and cause more stuttering," said Ehud Yairi, speech-language pathologist and researcher at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Tel-Aviv University.
However, research by Yairi published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research reveals that all children may be aware of the differences between fluent speech and stuttering as early as age three, and that they often display a social preference for fluent-speaking children by the time they are four years old.
"These findings should provide support to the important idea that we should shift from a 'hands-off' approach to more direct therapy techniques, and even more so with school-age children," added Barry Guitar, Ph.D., of University of Vermont.
"Any time parents are concerned about a child's fluency," notes Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, "they should educate themselves about the disorder and the many ways they can work to prevent stuttering from becoming a chronic problem."
The book, If Your Child Stutters: A Guide for Parents, also available in Spanish, answers questions that parents and teachers often have.
Written by leading experts, it describes the difference between normal disfluencies and stuttering and gives tips for parents of ways to help their child immediately.
Books and DVDs produced by the 65-year-old nonprofit Stuttering Foun-dation are available free to any public library. Locally, the books have been provided to the Ashville Free Library in Ashville; the Dunkirk Free Library in Dunkirk; and the Farman Free Library in Ellington.