Not long ago, someone asked the following question on one of the Internet lists about stuttering: "If there is 1 [stutterer] per 100 people, where do they hide in the schools?" The person went on to say that in all his years in school he had never met a pupil who stuttered. Indeed, stuttering is a rare enough disorder that many school speech pathologists spend entire careers without ever treating a child who stutters. Random chance alone dictates that in an elementary school of about 400 kids, there should be four who stutter. So, it's a good question. Where are they?
I'll tell you where they are. They're hiding. They hide inside the mouthy kid who *always* comments out of turn, usually on topic, and sometimes with a pun or with sarcasm. They hide inside the class clown who always answers, "Whooo meee??" or "Eeeenh, what's up, Doc?" when the teacher asks a question. They hide inside the jerk who throws spitballs or otherwise causes disruptions - almost exclusively during oral classwork. They hide inside the angry child who seems to have no friends and has frequent violent outbursts of temper in the classroom. They hide inside the college freshman who passes the prof a note asking her not to call on him in class discussions. The hide inside the kid who drops out of college in the third week of his freshman year, and who brings his big sister along to tell his professors that he's leaving while he stands there and examines his shoelaces. They hide inside the wallflower who never seems to know the answers to anything, whose teachers don't even remember his name, who is dying of loneliness that nobody sees.
The first one was me - by the time I was in the sixth grade I had realized that I could talk out when it suited me, that is, when I felt fluent and confident. As long as I stayed on topic, the only grade that got zapped was "conduct," but I didn't much care about that grade. As a wannabee baby beatnik, I thought it was cool to be considered kind of bad.
The second is the son of a friend, whose teachers often told her that they had never heard him stutter. Of course not - those smart-alec laugh lines were the only two set-phrases he could get out of his mouth without stuttering. His exasperated teachers would roll their eyes, and move on to the next kid.
The next four were students of mine, or nearly so in the case of the college kid who dropped out.
The last one nearly committed suicide before he found someone he could talk to who understood what he was going through.
A few years ago, I conducted a study of teachers' attitudes towards stuttering. As part of that study, I asked my sample of teachers to tell me the number of stutterers they thought they had taught during their careers. Using some pretty simple calculator math, I figured that my teachers probably did not recognize half of the kids who stutter with whom they came into contact. That really hit home when I met with my colleagues regarding the spitball thrower. Most of them had taught this boy since he started school, but not one had ever even considered that his behavior might be related to his carefully disguised speech problem. When I addressed the stuttering directly in conference with him, his behavior improved by an exponent. That year - he was in the 9th grade - he passed all his classes for the first time in his life.
What became of the other kids? Well, some will say that I grew from an obnoxious, mouthy teenager into an obnoxious, mouthy adult who occasionally uses language like a fire hose. But there is more to the story than that. When I began teaching, I found that my own experience gave me a special insight into the behaviors of children with communication problems. That is how I spotted the underlying cause of the spitball-thrower's disruptive behavior, when so many well-meaning adults had missed it altogether. I am now training in speech-language pathology so that I can hone my instincts into a useful and reliable tool.
The angry child became a friend, and I spent a lot of time showing rather than telling her that stuttering is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. Again, her school behavior improved a lot, and she finally developed the ability to handle social situations that have complex communication demands with something like equanimity. She'll be OK.
The son of the friend has dropped in and out of high school for a number of years, never quite receiving the help he needs because he is so good at hiding his stuttering. He's had run-ins with the law and with drugs. One day he will either crash and burn, or he will get tired of drifting and learn to deal with the problem. But I wonder what would have happened if he had had just one teacher who understood what was going on.
The lonely wallflower found some confidence but had a hard time in college. He has a girlfriend now, and the last contact I had with him, he sounded pretty content, though he was rethinking his career plans.
The college students -- I have no idea what happened to them. I wish I did.
Just because a naive listener doesn't recognize stuttering, it doesn't mean that stuttering isn't there leaving deep footprints all over the life of the stutterer. Most teachers are naive listeners, unprepared by either their training or their backgrounds to deal with stuttering, or with many communication problems. Most mean well and want to help their students, but they lack the tools to do the work they want to do. The following paper discusses in some detail how this lack of awareness serves to form and color the classroom environment of most children who stutter.
This paper was presented originally as a poster session at the American Speech-language and Hearing Association's annual convention in San Francisco, in November of 1999.
Estimated Number of Stutterers
Association des b*gues du Canada: "For the Teacher: How to Help Students who Stutter." Paper presented at the Canadian Association of People who Stutter, Ottawa 1993;
Audet, Lisa R and Danielle Ripich: "Psychiatric Disorders and Discourse Problems." School Discourse Problems (second edition). Danielle Newberry Ripich and Nancy Creaghead, eds. Singular Publishing Group, San Diego Calif: 1994.
Bergljot Gudmundsdottir, Johann Thoroddsen, Jonina Konnrādsdottir: "Report of the Committee on Support for Children, Their Increased Need for Special Support, and Conditions for Provision of That Support." Dagvist barna, Reykjavik, 1997.
Bernstein-Ratner, Nan: "Language Complexity and Stuttering in Children" . Topics in Language Disorders (1995): vol. 15 nr 3 pp. 32-47
Birna Bragadottir: "Stutteing while Suffocating, Suffocating in Stuttering, Suffocating while Stuttering" Malpipan nr. 13. Malbjörg, Reykjavik, November 1997: pp. 3-4)
Bloodstein, Oliver: A Handbook on Stuttering (5. ed, 1995)
Borg, Christer: Stamning i teorins och skolans vSrld. (Stuttering in Theory and in the World of School) (1996) Unpublished thesis, Gsteborgs Univrsitet, Psychologiska Institutionen.
Byrd, Kathryn and Eugene B. Cooper: " Expressive and Receptive Language Skills in Stutering Children." Journal of Fluency Disorders (1989) vol. 14, pp. 121-126
Conture, Edward G. and Ellen M. Kelly: "Young Stutterers' Nonspeech Behaviors During Stuttering." Journal of Speech and Hearing Research (Oct 1991) vol. 34, pp. 1041-1056
Cooper, Eugene B and Crystal S. Cooper: "Clinician Attitudes Towards Stuttering: Two Decades of Change." Journal of Fluency Disorders (1996) vol. 21 pp. 119 - 135.
Dell, Carl: Treating the School Age Stutterer: a Guide for Clinicians.. Memphis, Tennessee: Stuttering Foundation of America: 7. ed (1996)
DeNil, Luc and Gene J. Brutten,: "Speech-Associated Attitudes of Stuttering and Nonstuttering Children." Journal of Speech and Hearing Research (February 1991) vol. 34, pp.. 60-66.
Donahue, Mavis L: "Differences in Classroom Discourse Styles of Students with Learning Disabilities." School Discourse Problems (second edition). Danielle Newberry Ripich and Nancy Creaghead, eds. Singular Publishing Group, San Diego Calif., USA: 1994.
Doody, Irene; Joseph Kalinowski, Joy Armson, and Andrew Stuart: "Stereotypes of Stutterers and Nonstutterers in Thre Rural Communities in Newfoundland." Journal of Fluency Disorders (1993), vol. 18 pp.. 363-373.
Elmar Ūordarson: Stam: upplsingar um stam and thā sem stama. Reykjavik: 1990.
Farmer, Thomas W and Elizabth M Z Farmer: "Social Relationships of Students with Exceptionalities in Mainstream Classrooms: Social Networks and Homophily." Exceptional Children (Mars-April 1996) vol. 62, pp.. 431 - 450.
Guitar, Barry, Helen Kopff Schaefer, Gail Donahue-Kilburg, and Lynne Bond: "Parent Verbal Interactions and Speech Rate: A Case Study in Stuttering." Journal of Speech and Hearing Research vol. 35, pp.. 742-754 August 1992
Heite, Louise: "What's a Teacher to Do?" Fyrirlestur ā rādstefnu European League of Stuttering Associations, Dublinni, Irlandi, 1. mars 1998.
Horsley, Irmgarde and Carol T FitzGibbon: "Stuttering Children: Investigation of a Stereotype." British Journal of Disorders of Communication (1987) vol. 22 pp. 16 - 35.
Ingvar Sigurgeirsson: Listin ad spyrja: handbok fyrir kennara. Rannsoknarstofnun Kennarahāskola Islands, Reykjavik: 1996.
Jezer, Marty: Stuttering: a Life Bound up in Words. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
Kaplan, Paul S: Educational Psychology for Tomorrow's Teacher. West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA: 1990.
Kristjana Bjarnthorsdottir and Margr*t Ūorleifsdottir:Stam Skolabarna. Lokaritgerd, Kennarahāskoli Islands, April 1997.
Langlois, Aim*e and Steven H. Long: "A Model for Teaching Parents to Facilitate Fluent Speech." Journal of Fluency Disorders (1988) v 13 pp 163 - 172.
Larsen, Lennart and Karin Svanholm: Um Stam Skolabarna (1987). Reykjavik: Nāmsgagnastofnun.
Lass, Norman J; Dennis M. Ruscello; John F. Schmitt; Mary D. Pannbacker; Mary Banyas Orlando; Kathy A. Dean; Julie C. Ruzisk 198 :eachers' Perceptions of Stutterers." Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (janĪar 1992) vol. 23 pp.. 78 - 81.
Lass, Norman J; Dennis M. Ruscello; John F. Schmitt; Mary D. Pannbacker; Angela Marsh Kiser; Ashraf Mussa; and Patricia Lockhart: "School Administrators' Perceptions of People Who Stutter." Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (april 1994) vol. 25 pp.. 90 - 93.
Laulund, Egil; Tine Egberg; and Per Fab*ch Knudsen: Stammen and skole. Dansk Videnscenter for Stammen and Foreningen for Stammere i Danmark: 1996
Mālbjsrg, f*lag um stam: "Stam skolabarna: leidbeiningar til kennara." pprunulega "The Child who Stutters at School", Stuttering Foundation of America. Reykjavik: odagsett.
Maguire, Gerald, MD: "Medical Treatment of Stuttering." Fyrirlestur ā ārsfundi National Stuttering Project, Buffalo, New York, June, 1998.
Menntamālarāduneytid Islands: Enn Betri Skoli.. Reykjavik: febrĪar, 1998.
Mooney, Siobhan and Peter K. Smith: "Bullying and the Child Who Stammers." British Journal of Special Education. (March 1995) vol. 22 nr. 1 pp. 24 - 27
Nippold, Marilyn and Ilsa E Schwarz: "Reading Disorders in Stuttering Children ." Journal of Fluency Disorders . (1990) vol. 15 pp.. 175-189
Nippold, Marilyn A., Ilsa E. Schwarz, and Jörg-Dieter Jescheniak: "Narrative Ability in School-age Stuttering Boys: a Preliminary Investigation." Journal of Fluency Disorders (1991) v. 16 pp 298 - 308 P 291.
Ramig, Peter: "To the Teacher of the Nonfluent Child." Stuttering Home Page:Odagsett. http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/InfoPWDS/Ramig2.html
Riley G D & J Riley: Treatment of Stuttering In Early Childhood- Methods & Issues, David Prins & Roger J Ingham (eds). kfl.3, pp.. 43. College Hill Press: 1983.
Rind, Ellen and Patricia Rind: "The Stutterer in the Classroom." Stuttering Resource Foundation: New Rochelle NY, Odagsett.
Ruscello, Dennis M.; Norman J Lass; John F. Schmitt; and Mary D. Pannbacker: "Special Educators' Perceptions of Stutterers." Journal of Fluency Disorders (1994) vol. 19 pp.. 125 - 132.
Silverman, Franklin H : Stuttering and Other Fluency Disorders. Prentice-Hall, Inc.; Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA: 1992
Starkweather, C Woodruff:Fluency and Stuttering. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ., USA: 1987
Starkweather, C Woodruff, and Janet Ackerman: Stuttering. Pro-Ed Inc.; Austin, Texas, USA: 1997
Starkweather, C Woodruff, Sheryl R Gottwald, and Murray M Halfond. Stuttering Prevention: A Clinical Method. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ., USA: 1990
Van Riper, Charles:The Nature of Stuttering (annar ed.) Prentice-Hall, Inc: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1982
Van Riper, Charles: undated article in Letting Go, newsletter of the National Stuttering Project http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/vanriper/vrmessage.html
Van Riper, Charles and Emerick, Lon L : Speech Correction: An Introduction to Speech Pathology and Audiology. (Sjsundi ed) Prentice-Hall, Inc.; Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA: 1984
Weiss, Amy: "The Pragmatic Context of Children's Disfluency" Seminars in Speech and Language, (August 1993) vol. 14 nr. 3.
Weiss,Amy: "Conversational Demands and their Effects of Fluency and Stuttering" Topics in Language Disorders 1995; v 13 nr 3, pp. 18-31)
White, Peter A and Sara R C Collins: "Stereotype Formation by Inference: a Possible Explanation for the 'Stutterer' Stereotype." Journal of Speech and Hearing Research (des. 1984) vol. 27 pp. 567 - 570.
Williams, Dean E.: "What Do I Tell People about My Child" Your Child: Questions and Answers. Kfl. 4, pp.. 33 - 43. Stuttering Foundation of America, Memphis Tenn., 5th edition: 1996.
Yeakle, Mary Kaye and Eugene B. Cooper: "Teacher Perceptions of Stuttering." Journal of Fluency Disorders (1986) vol. 11 pp. 345 - 359.
Yoder, Paul J, Betty Davies, Kerri Bishop, and Leslie Munson: "Effect of Adult Continuing Wh-Questions on Conversatinal Participation in Children with Developmental Disabilites" Journal of Speech and Hearing Research (Feb 1994), vol. 37, pp. 193 - 204.
Personal communication with