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Stuttering Still Causes Back-to-School Woes

August 22, 2016

Back-to-School season is upon us. For some, there is great excitement and anticipation for the new school year. But for others, there is great anxiety-especially for children who stutter and their parents.

When teachers hear a child begin to stutter, the immediate reaction is one of concern mixed with a host of urgent questions.

Should a teacher tell the child who stutters to "slow down and relax?" Should they complete their words? Should they expect the same quality and quantity of work from this student?

The nonprofit Stuttering Foundation answers these and many other questions in its brochure, 8 Tips for Teachers – available now in both English and Spanish.

"Young children are busily learning to talk," explains Lisa Scott, Ph.D. of The Florida State University. "As such, they may make speech ‘mistakes,’ such as effortless repetitions and prolonging of sounds. In most instances," she adds, "this is very normal. If parents and teachers listen to and answer these young children in a patient, calm, unemotional way, the child's speech will probably return to normal."

"Some children, however, will go beyond the normal and begin to repeat and prolong sounds markedly," explains Dr. Scott. "They may begin to struggle, tense up, and become frustrated in their efforts to talk. These children need help."


Tips for Teachers

  1. Don’t tell the student “slow down” or “just relax.”
  2. Don’t complete words for the student or talk for him or her.
  3. Help all members of the class learn to take turns talking and listening. All students – and especially those who stutter – find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions and they have the listener’s attention.
  4. Expect the same quality and quantity of work from the student who stutters as the one who doesn’t.
  5. Speak with the student in an unhurried way, pausing frequently.
  6. Convey that you are listening to the content of the message, not how it is said.
  7. Have a one-on-one conversation with the student who stutters about needed accommodations in the classroom. Respect the student’s needs, but do not be enabling.
  8. Don’t make stuttering something to be ashamed of. Talk about stuttering just like any other matter.

Compiled by Lisa Scott, Ph.D., The Florida State University

Source:  Stuttering Foundation

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