Q: My 5-year-old child has been stuttering for a couple of years now, and gets very upset when he can't get his words out. What should we do?
A: You should ask your pediatrician for a referral to a speech pathologist. While it is normal for very young children (around 2 or 3) to stutter, when the condition is still an issue at age 5 and the child is exhibiting signs of distress when it happens, then a speech evaluation is essential. Although therapy can be pricey, many insurance plans may actually cover services if they're administered by a hospital-based practice. Children under 6 years of age may also qualify for government early intervention services, which means the cost of his therapy may be partially or fully covered. You should talk to your child's principal and ask that an evaluation of his speech be done. Once the school confirms that your son has a problem with stuttering, they can usually arrange for therapy to take place in school during the school day. Above all, try not to worry too much. With proper treatment, most kids learn to control their stuttering before adolescence. The condition is no indication of his current or future intellectual abilities.