What is fluency?

Fluent speech is a smooth and easy flow of speech. For most people fluent speech is easy and effortless. Fluent speech is free from interruptions, hesitations, repetitions or stops and starts.

Children in the preschool years may have some trouble producing smooth or fluent speech. During this time, children are developing vocabulary and learning to express themselves at a rapid rate and their thoughts and talking may get confused. Children from 2 – 5 years of age may repeat sounds, words or phrases. This is referred to as normal non-fluency. The amount and types of this non-fluent speech may vary from day to day and across different situations. Most children will outgrow this period of non-fluency in the early school years.

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is an interruption in the smooth flow of speech. There might be frequent and multiple repetitions (e.g., sounds: w-w-w what; syllables: da-da-da daddy; words: what-what-what ), stretching out or prolongation of sounds (e.g., mmmommy), or frequent hesitations and filler words (e.g., um, uh,etc.). These are called “dysfluencies”. Other behaviours may also be present. These include: facial grimacing or tension; eye blinking; groping of the mouth with no sounds coming out; abnormal rise in pitch or loudness; avoidance of speaking situations; or frustration when speaking (e.g., child may say, “I can’t talk”; cover mouth; or cry).

What are the typical assessment procedures?

The S-LP will ask the parents questions about the child’s overall development, the history of the fluency problem, and the parents’ concerns. The S-LP will listen to the child talking in different situations and will make note of dysfluencies. The child’s general speech and language skills will also be tested.

Who can be referred?

Any preschool-aged child with fluency concerns can be referred.

Who can refer?

Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres has an open referral policy whereby parents/caregivers, daycare/preschool staff, family doctors, and related professionals with parental consent may refer a child.

Click here to download the NSHSC referral form.

How do I make a referral?

Referrals and questions may be directed to your local NSHSC site