By Peter Ramig
Dept. of Communication Disorders and Speech Science
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado 80309 (303) 492-3049
DANGER OR WARNING SIGNS
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ONSET OF STUTTERING
1. Some children begin stuttering as soon as they begin combining words, but most do not start until approximately one year later.
2. Stuttering often begins gradually and its progression can be episodic, containing oscillations in severity across communicative tasks and time.
3. Repetitions of syllables which occur on the initial words or utterances are the most frequent type of nonfluency occurring in beginning stutterers.
1.The speech pathologist's time with the child is quite limited. Therefore, the teacher, who is with the child throughout most of the day, can be helpful in providing the clinician with a broader picture of the child's classroom speech behavior.
2. Try to treat the child's stuttering casually and matter-of-factly.
3. When the child is experiencing nonfluencies, PLEASE DO NOT:
INSTEAD follow these suggestions when the child is nonfluent:
4. If you notice that the child has fluent speaking days and nonfluent speaking days, encourage his/her classroom participation on his/her more fluent days and let him/her participate less on nonfluent days.
5. If you are not sure if you should require the older elementary-age child who stutters to give oral reports, we suggest talking to him/her privately about it. Tell him/her that you realize he/she sometimes has trouble talking and tell him/her Its up to him/her to decide If he/she wants to give an oral report.
6. When the young child is experiencing a period of increased nonfluency, try to provide him/her with successful speaking experiences by encouraging fluency speaking situations such as choral speaking, singling, recitation of nursery rhymes, rhythmic speaking, using puppets, etc.
7. To increase the child's fluency during reading group activities, begin the reading passage speaking In unison with the child. If the stuttering child speaks or reads in unison with you, he/she usually will not stutter. This is called choral speaking or choral reading. Do this with every student 80 the nonfluent child will not be singled out as different.
8. Avoid intimidating questioning of the child.
9. Avoid discussing the child's speech differences in his presence. If, however, he/she asks particularly about it, be empathic and try to reassure him/her that everyone finds it difficult to talk at times.
10. Avoid using the word "Stuttering" to describe the child's speech when talking to him/her. Instead, use descriptive words such as: "gets stuck bumpy speech," "hard talking," etc. However, If the child is well aware of his nonfluencies and refers to them as stuttering, it would be unnatural for everyone else to avoid using the word.
11. After a nonfluent utterance, you might repeat back the content of what the child said. This will help you make sure you are attending to the content of what he/she said and help to reduce his/her memory of the nonfluency. In addition, you are showing the child you are listening to him/her.
12. Be careful not to convey a sense of time pressure while talking. Behaviors can purposely be modeled to reduce this sense of time pressure by speaking more slowly. Speech should be evenly paced and not contain fast rushes followed by long pauses. "Brisk" turn taking and frequent interruptions also convey a sense of time pressure and should be minimized.
13. Talk openly with the child about stuttering If he/she expresses desire to do so, but do not make a big issue out of it.
14. A child develops his/her attitudes about talking by observing others. Take advantage of every opportunity to see that the child experiences some form of success and praise.
15. Try to remove the stigma attached to stuttering which the child may be experiencing. One way to do this is by occasionally modeling unforced stuttering behaviors so the child realizes everyone is nonfluent sometimes and that it can be done easily and without tension.
16. Be aware that the child may become very frustrated if he experiences a great deal of severe nonfluency. Try to provide a way for him/her to cope with this frustration.
17. Teachers should intervene if the nonfluent child is teased or harassed by other students. When the nonfluent child is absent, consider using the following discussion strategies with the class:
IMPORTANT: There are many fallacies we hear regarding the causes of stuttering. The fact is, experts on stuttering openly acknowledge the causes of stuttering are unknown. Much of the recent research on stuttering, however, supports possible neuromotor influences. Few specialists on stuttering support a psychological cause or base for the problem. However, there is little doubt that once stuttering is present, stress created from feelings of embarrassment, inadequacy, shame, and frustration cause speaking to become more difficult.