This text-based course is a transcript of the webinar, “Risk Factors for Young Children who Stutter,” presented by Craig Coleman, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F.
>> Craig Coleman: When we work with young children who stutter, it is important to be able to identify which children are going to need treatment, which ones are more likely to recover with maybe some minimal treatment and which ones are not really at risk for continued stuttering.
For this presentation, I have no disclosures since I am only going to be talking about risk factors. I do have to disclose though that this is probably going to be the longest webinar in SpeechPathology.com history since we were supposed to do it three weeks ago. For those of you who were originally supposed to attend three weeks ago, I apologize for having to reschedule. I was taking my son to school and fell on some ice and ended up with a couple stitches in the back of my head as a result. Luckily I escaped without any concussion symptoms, so we are ready to go.
What Are Risk Factors?
I want to start by talking about what the risk factors are. When people hear that term, it can be scary to hear what that may be in terms of stuttering. When we are looking at risk factors, we are considering any variable associated with an increased risk of acquiring a disorder. For example, with stuttering, when we talk about risk factors, we are not necessarily talking about severity level; although I am going to talk about how we can incorporate risk factors into assessing severity level. We are talking about what factors or variables does a child come to us with that make it more or less likely that they are going to continue to stutter or that they are going to need some significant intervention.
Risk factors are something that we are traditionally used to talking about from a general society trend. We talk about risk factors in heart disease. We talk about risk factors for diabetes and stroke, but we do not always quite understand the risk factors that go with children who stutter. We are going to try to get into that today so we can evaluate what is already out there and maybe also evaluate which factors may be most important to us. They may be different from what you think about when working with a young child who stutters.
In preparing today’s presentation, I was thinking about how many times when we talk about risk factors, we talk about preschool population and assessing those risk factors. That is largely what we are going to focus on today, but I am also going to try to focus a bit on the older school-age and adolescent children. What do we view as risk factors for those children?
Why are Risk Factors Important to Us?
There are a few different reasons why risk factors are important, especially when working with young children. For many young children who stutter, risk factors are what ultimately help guide us to our treatment decisions, at least very early on in the process. When we talk about doing evaluations with young children who stutter, one of the main things that we do is evaluate whether or not the child is likely to outgrow their stuttering or whether or not they are likely to continue stuttering without treatment. Essentially, that comes down to a risk analysis. We do not necessarily always look at it like this, but if you think of what insurance companies do for example, they do risk analysis to determine what your likelihood is of getting sick or what your likelihood is of having an accident. We are kind of evaluating the same types of things. We are evaluating what the likelihood is that this child is going to continue stuttering if we do not do some intervention.