stutter

Working with children, you’re well-versed in the challenges posed by stuttering. You know how it erodes confidence and self-worth. When stammering children feel inferior to classmates, they can withdraw. Poor self-regard can also hinder learning. You can be of immense assistance to a child who stutters. Here’s what you can say and do, to empower and support them.

1. Know the common reasons for a stutter.

When a child understands the causes of stammering, guilt dissipates. Advise that they may have inherited the trait. It’s estimated that 60 percent of the general population has a family member who stutters.

Or, their brain may process language differently, hampering the anatomy or “body parts” needed to speak. You can explain a developmental delay by saying their speech just needs some training. If a child is hyperactive or rushes in speaking, coach them in relaxing and slowing down.

2. Meet with teachers privately.

At the beginning of a semester, a child should confide in their teachers that they stutter. If conversing is intimidating, the pupil can write a letter. Advance notice helps educators adjust their teaching style for the student’s benefit.

Teachers should tailor class participation to a child’s age, disposition, and speech abilities. If a speech therapist is on staff, their insight and guidance will help tremendously.

3. Craft a standard response.

Equip a student with words telling others how to respond to stuttering. Such information eases tension for all parties involved. For example, a child can say, “I stutter sometimes. Please be patient with me. I need to express my thoughts without help.”

In many instances, being calm and considerate while a student speaks will help stuttering abate. In a nonjudgmental environment, their confidence will improve.

4. Visualize words before saying them.

This technique can work for an older student who’s able to read. Picturing words aids articulation. When a child is alone, spelling difficult words aloud helps to envision them.

5. Take your time while talking.

Rushing worsens stuttering. Before speaking, a child should try to release tension by relaxing their shoulders. Take slow, deep breaths from their belly.

Assure a child that it’s fine to pause while mentally picturing or spelling out words. They should focus on their thoughts, rather than fear making mistakes. If they do get stuck on words, pausing to breathe assists smooth repetition.

6. Practice speaking while alone.

Make it a daily exercise to talk aloud privately. When a child hears the sound of their voice speaking smoothly, it will boost their confidence. Reading aloud helps too since it teaches a child how to breathe while speaking. If specific words are problematic, help a child find synonyms to use as substitutes.

It’s important not to “force” difficult words. Sighing beforehand aids relaxing. So does moving the lips gently and speaking softly. Make sentences short, spaced with pauses.

7. Know where to look while speaking.

When speaking before a class, keep your eyes on an object at the back of the room. Look over classmates’ heads, rather than directly at them. Conversely, when speaking to just one person, look at their eyes. These techniques dispel jitters.

8. Manage teasing.

One coping mechanism is using confrontational humor. If a bully imitates a student, they can say, “Oh, I see that you stutter, too! But, I do it better than you. See me when you’re an expert.”

Another approach is having friends of the stuttering child stand up in their defense. Peers can tell bullies, “Back off, or you’ll be in trouble with the principal!”

If these two methods fail, a child must inform their parents, who should make teachers and guidance counselors aware of the bullying, and put a stop to it.

9. Remember your talents and abilities.

Remind a child of what they do well. Assure them that stuttering is common, so they shouldn’t feel ashamed. Acceptance helps a student relax, which can alleviate stammering.

10. Picture success.

At home, as a student practices speaking, they can imagine themselves talking smoothly. Projecting a positive outcome makes it more likely to achieve.

Here are additional management tips for teachers.

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Additional Sources

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Stuttering

http://www.stutteringhelp.org/overcoming-fear-and-tension-stuttering

http://blog.asha.org/category/slp/page/2/