I don't think I've mentioned this here before, but Daniel stutters. I can't remember when we started noticing it, but it might have been around the time he turned three. At first it would come and go; some days he'd struggle with words, then for several days or weeks at a time it would go away. It was more pronounced when he'd have a surge in vocabulary. Now it's nearly all the time, though the extent to which he is "disfluent" (a term I have only very recently become acquainted with) fluctuates according to a variety of factors, like how tired he is or how complex the idea he's trying to express.
So far, this doesn't seem to bother Daniel much. He has plenty of friends from preschool and is comfortable talking to just about anyone. One morning last week, for example, a woman was loitering by her car outside our house, and he ran outside to introduce himself and tell her about his best friend across the street. It turned out she was a real estate agent waiting for the new owners of another house across the street to show up for the closing. She was very kind and patient. In fact, I've noticed that most, if not all, of the people Daniel interacts with are kind and patient - or even oblivious, but it amounts to the same thing - and thus he is so far uninhibited in his social interactions.
I'm worried this will change and that he will grow self-conscious and unwilling to communicate. Many children who begin stuttering in very early childhood grow out of it, and I certainly hope this is the case with Daniel. We've got family history on our side; Stuart stuttered for a time when he was young, as did one of my uncles, and both of them grew out of it well before adulthood. But what if this keeps on? It's so hard for me to watch, helpless, as he struggles, sometimes a little, sometimes mightily, to get those words out.
In any case, I've decided to take action, as far as I can. My youngest cousin just finished a degree in speech pathology, and she sent me a questionnaire and offered to do an evaluation when the extended family gathers for a wedding next month. Our time may be limited, what with the wedding and all (her brother is the one getting married!), but hopefully she can give us more information and some suggestions. Maybe speech therapy is in our future, or maybe we have to wait it out. The best thing for right now, difficult as it may be, is to be patient.