Stammering, also known as stuttering or childhood-onset fluency disorder, is a speaking difficulty characterised by repeated and substantial difficulties with usual fluency and flow of speech. According to the Indian Stammering Association, stammering affects 1% of the population and affects 5-15% of kids. People who stammer know what they want to say but struggle to say it. The majority of youngsters grow out of stammering. However, it can be a persistent problem that lasts into adulthood. But worry not: here are some strategies and foods to help your child with speaking difficulty to communicate better. (Speech delay signs in kids)
WHAT IS STAMMERING?
Stammering is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which children have speaking difficulty and struggle to talk clearly and fluently. They may, for example, repeat or lengthen a word, a phrase, or a consonant or vowel sound. They may also halt during talking when they reach a difficult word or accent. Most stuttering occurs at the start of a phrase when kids repeat the first letter a few times before it is proper.
There are two main types of stammering:
1. Developmental stammering:
This is the most common type of stammering. It occurs in early childhood while speech and language abilities are rapidly developing. Certain treatments, medicines, and psychological or emotional stress might also contribute to it.
2. Acquired or onset stammering:
It occurs in older children and adults as a result of a brain injury, stroke, or chronic neurological disorder. It is relatively rare.
Causes of stammering in kids:
Stammering is the result of an imbalance in the activity of the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain. The researchers discovered that stammering or speech impairment may be linked to signal disruption in the left section of the brain. This region is responsible for the programming of physical speech movements, and also their regulation.
A youngster may stammer for a variety of reasons, including:
- Inherited from parents
- Childhood developmental delays
- High/increased activity level, when tired or exhausted due to high physical activities.
- During child’s rapid pace of speaking, when they attempt to speak faster.
Signs and symptoms of stammering in kids:
You can use these indications to determine if the youngster is just lost for words or is stammering.
- Start a word, phrase, or sentence with difficulty
- Adding sounds to a word or extending a phrase
- If trouble progressing to the following word is expected, additional words such as “hmm” might be included.
- There is too much stress, tightness, or movement of the face or upper body to generate a word.
- Fear of having to speak
- Communication skills are not effective.
Stammering or speaking difficulty can also be associated with these symptoms like blinking eyes rapidly, tremoring of lips or jaw, frequent facial tics, clenching fists etc.
7 Foods to manage Stammering in kids:
Without the brain, there would be no language. The human brain has a few areas that are specific to language processing and production. Adding foods that support brain development can help to reduce stammering in kids. (Brain-Boosting Foods for kids)
All the nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and vitamin B6. They help to improve the motor functions in kids who stammer. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and are a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages cognitive functions. (Best nuts for protein)
Apart from nuts, seeds like flax, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers and therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and much higher in zinc than other seeds, which help in increasing concentration and memory.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS:
Multiple studies have shown the link between low omega 3 fatty acids and poor development, ADHD, speech delay, poor focus and concentration. These healthy fats are crucial for the brain development and helps to manage speech disorder like stammering in kids. ( What are some home benefits of omega 3?)
Pure cocoa powder (unsweetened) contains brain boosting components as it is packed with a large number of antioxidants molecules, the main is epicatechin helpful to improve cognition in studies. Hence cocoa powder is also an important brain development food for children. (More benefits of cocoa powder)
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. It is known to reduce anxiety and stress. Moreover, it increases acetylcholine levels which support better memory, mental focus and intelligence. Ashwagandha also improves communication between nerve cells and stimulates the body’s capacity to heal any nervous system damage.
Brahmi is a superfood for the brain and is believed to sharpen the brain by protecting cells and increasing chemicals associated with learning and memory. It has shown to improve spatial learning and retaining power in kids. That is why in older times, kids were often given Brahmi powder with ghee/honey. This would help in keeping them calm and reduce stammering.
Shankhapushpi is a traditional remedy for increasing the functioning of the brain. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.
Tips to help reduce stammering in kids:
Here are some strategies that you or your kid may do to help lessen the speaking difficulty in kids :
- When your youngster stutters, don’t expect him to stop and restart.
- When youngsters are expected to speak, they might feel under a lot of pressure. Allow him to continue speaking while relaxing.
- If your youngster stutters, attempt to distract him with anything else.
- Don’t force your youngster speak. Encourage more one-on-one interactions with the youngster to help him relax.
- Do not lecture or advise your kid to slow down. Encourage your child to do anything he wants instead.
- Don’t be alarmed if your youngster stutters a lot.
- If he expresses embarrassment while speaking, instead of trying to solve the situation, support him and remind him of his importance.
- Whatever the scenario, make him feel accepted.
- Make an appointment with a reputable therapist who can assist him in stammering speech therapy.
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