The following letter to Ann Landers appeared September 15, 1998

Dear Ann Landers:

Your recent column on stuttering caught my eye. I am a certified speech-language pathologist and president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and I urge parents to have their children evaluated by a certified speech-language pathologist as soon as they suspect that their child may be stuttering. While some children do outgrow disfluent speech, a speech-language pathologist can help determine if your child will need intervention. Stuttering can have a profoundly devastating effect if left untreated.

If a child stutters, parents should know how to communicate in a manner that may help reduce anxiety and frustration. The following techniques can help relieve the stress a child may be experiencing:

  1. Listen closely when your child talks, and pay attention to what your child says, rather than the way it is said.
  2. Give your child enough time to talk, and limit the number of your questions.
  3. Do not fill in words or sentences.
  4. Stuttering isn't an easy problem and cannot just be "cured," so telling a child to "slow down" or "relax" often creates more pressure and can be demeaning.
  5. Talk in a slow, relaxed manner.
  6. If your child's stuttering interferes with your ability to understand, repeat or rephrase what your child says to verify that you have understood.
For more information on stuttering or for referrals to a speech-language pathologist, please tell your readers to write: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 10801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. 20852 (, or call 800-638-8255.

Ann Landers' response:

Nancy B. Swigert, president

Dear Nancy Swigert: Thank you for your helpful and compassionate suggestions. Your organization is another excellent resource for stutterers who have been plagued by this affliction for years. I want to thank you on behalf of all of them.

added September 15, 1998