There are many myths around language development in bilingual children, and an increased risk of stuttering in bilingual children is one of these misperceptions. In research studies, speech and language therapists have identified higher numbers of dysfluencies in speech samples from bilingual children. However, further investigation has shown that although some types of dysfluency are much more common, this may be because these children are using language at the leading edge of their linguistic capability and may be influenced by factors such as the specific grammatical structure of the languages being spoken. Key differential diagnostic differences to look out for include rhythm and tension of the dysfluencies produced, as opposed to types and frequencies of dysfluencies. It is also recommended to use parental concern (which has been considered a fairly reliable indicator of requirement for further evaluation) as these parents may be more tuned to anticipated ‘normal’ dysfluencies amongst their bilingual children. Normal dysfluencies amongst bilingual children include increased frequency of monosyllabic words, sound and syllable repetitions. The authors of this article highlight that, in clinical practice, speech and language therapists do not yet have the evidence base to rate severity of speech fluency in bilingual children, nor do they accurately document and consider the impact of a stutter across the different languages that a child speaks. With increases in linguistic diversity within our communities, it seems sensible that we need better measures and more evidence to dispel the potentially harmful myths that still haunt speech and language therapy practice.

Assessing bilingual children: are their disfluencies indicative of stuttering or the by-product of navigating two languages?
Byrd CT.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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