Stuttering

Last night and this morning we had something interesting happen with CootieGirl. I’m not concerned about it, but I did want to write about it.

We had a really busy day yesterday – Denis had the kids at home all day because our daycare was closed for Rosh Hashanna. I got home about 6:15 p.m. just as the babysitter showed up to watch the kids for a couple hours. Denis had an appointment to show houses to a couple, and I had band practice. I spent about 15 minutes with the kids and then headed back out for practice.

A couple hours later I got home and found CootieGirl and Tracy comfortably watching tv on the sofa. When I walked in the front door CootieGirl scrambled off the sofa and came running over for a hug. I asked her a question and she started stammering, unable to say anything for a few seconds other than “uh uh uh uh uh,” while pointing at her sippy cup. I knelt down beside her and waited while she continued. “uh uh uh…elephant!” she finally exclaimed, proudly pointing at the picture of an elephant on her sippy cup.

“That’s right!” I said. “What this?” I said, pointing at the cat on the cup.

“uh uh uh uh uh uh … uh uh…cat!”

Now, for a second I thought that Tracy and CootieGirl had been watching the movie “Paulie”, which features a little girl that stutters who owns a parrot that teaches her to talk. I thought maybe she was mimicking the movie. Alas, “Paulie” was not in the VCR.

Tracy left a few minutes later and CootieGirl continued to do the “uh uh uh uh” routine, having trouble finding words. I put in a video for her that features lots of babies, and she sat on my lap to watch it. Pointing at the tv, she proceeded to say the word “baby” about 20 times until I interrupted her to ask her a question. She answered then went right back to saying “baby” over and over again.

Needless to say I was freaked out. CootieGirl normally is a chatterbox with complete (well, nearly complete) sentences and hardly ever fills in with “ums” or “uhs” – usually she only does that when she makes the pretense of thinking. For example, “CootieGirl, do you want milk or juice?” “Ummmmmmm…milk!” A few minutes after the video ended I could tell she was exhausted from her busy day, so I put her to bed.

When Denis got home I told him about her grasping for words and he said she had been fine all day. I told him we should wait and see how she does in the morning – that it could have just been because she was overly tired from her day at home (she only took a small nap the whole day and was awake about an hour past her bedtime). So this morning I woke up CootieGirl and began speaking with her, and she was fine – she was back to her normal self, chattering and talking without the fillers. That is, until we went downstairs. As she was coming down the stairs she pointed to the coffee table and started with the “uh uh uh uh uh uh”s again. When she moved into the kitchen Denis asked her if she wanted a waffle for breakfast, and as she answered she stumbled over the answer until she finally said, “Waffles!”

So yes, I’ll keep an eye on it. From what I’ve read at BabyCenter and a couple other baby sites this might not be true stuttering so much as dysfluency, and supposedly all toddlers go through a mild stuttering stage as their brain begins to work faster than the child can speak the words. Still, it’s more than a little disconcerting to see your normally effusive child just hit a wall in her speech so suddenly.

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