About the presenters:
  • Silvana Franchini, Maria Eugenia Ramirez, Cristina Reppetti are Speech Pathologists. Buenos Aires University.
  • Concurrence in Foniatrics Service of Children's Hospital
  • Specializing Seminar on Stuttering, by Beatriz Biain de Touzet Cristina Reppetti, Maria Eugenia Ramirez : Assistant to the 1stCongress of Fluency disorders. 1994. Munich
  • Cristina Reppetti : WORKSHOP FOR SPECIALISTS. STUTTERING THERAPY . Stuttering Foundation of America, and Northwestern University. (Julio 1995).
  • Foundering Members of Argentine Stuttering Association. (1997)
  • Directive commission members of Argentine Stuttering Association. (1997-2000)
  • Teachers of post-grads on stuttering. Bs. As. Univercity.( 1997-2000)
  • Authors of the Guidebook for teachers, "Stuttering goes to school"
  • Other papers published:
    • Actas de las 1st Jornadas Nacionales sobre Disfluencias. Asociación Argentina de Tartamudez.1998
    • "La tartamudez tambien va a la escuela" Fga.M.E.Ramirez http://educar.org/articulos/tartamudez.htm Mayo 2001. Entrevista Equipo integral de asesoramiento en tartamudez http://www.logopedia.net/article.php?sid=479. Julio 2001
    • Articulo "La tartamudez en la escuela". Fga. Silvana Franchini, Fga. Maria Eugenia Ramirez. Revista Novedades Educativas, pag. 26-27.Noviembre 2001

  • You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the authors before October 22, 2002.

    Disfluency In The Classroom: The Role Of The Teacher

    by Silvana Franchini, Maria Eugenia Ramirez, Cristina Reppetti
    from Argentina



    Language is present from birth. In the very first years of life it is a very important socializing element. With the beginning of school and as we advance, language gradually occupies more relevant places in the school setting.

    It is the place where difficulties in speaking fluently begin to arise along with problems related to:

    - The reaction of the listener

    - Size of the audience

    - Approval or disapproval reaction of the listener

    - Time pressure

    - Level of communicative responsibility

    - Increasing of motor, linguistic, emotional and cognitive demands required by interaction

    - Anticipatory behaviors and thoughts.


    School can be a very stressful for some children. It can especially produce anxiety for those who are afraid of reading aloud, talking in class, answering questions, getting involved in school performances and/or even talking in playtimes.


    In our experience as speech and language therapists working with disfluent clients, we have usually seen that school is a place where stuttering children can experience very traumatic situations if they are not understood, supported and accepted by their teachers and their peers group. They spend many hours at school were they face to many situations in which they have to use language: to communicate with their partners and teachers, to ask questions, to be evaluated (oral lessons, answering questions, reading aloud, etc.), to participate in school performances, etc.


    Likewise, teachers usually communicate the difficulties they have in knowing how to cope with a child that stutters in their class. They usually ask:


    -       Up to what point and under what circumstances can the disfluent child be asked to do his oral lessons?

    -       Should I talk with him about his problem, or ignore it

    -       What should I do if his classmates make fun of him?

    -       How can I get him to participate in class?


    On the other hand, school is a place where, apart from the academic learning, children learn to coexist with others and to socialize. It is, along with the family, the 2nd that can give the child more support and integration.


    That is why we consider it very important that teachers be informed in a proper way about stuttering  and how they should act when a stuttering child is in the classroom.


    Starting with this idea, at the International Seminar held in our country,  (Argentina) by Dr. Herman Peters in 1998 we carried out a survey among teachers from three schools in Buenos Aires City and the suburbs with the aim of investigating what kind of information teachers in our country had about stuttering. According to the information obtained in these surveys we could see that 83% of those polled (from a total of 80) had never received any updated information about stuttering in their professional training or later, in their work places. 58% said that they had no experience with disfluent pupils, but at the same time, 67% believed the single characteristic of stuttering was the word or syllable repetition. This means that possibly some of these teachers have had disfluent pupils in their classes that they had not noticed. Other interesting details are that 50% of the teachers believed stuttering was caused by an emotional conflict and in the most of cases they could not find the proper way to work with these pupils and to do an academic evaluation. As we could notice, the same ignorance about stuttering existed in the school environment as in other places. Old ideas still are present and it is necessary to inform teachers in a proper way about this issue.


    From these findings, we decided to form a team devoted to give information and advice to educators about stuttering. As a first step in 1998, we wrote a brochure for teachers, published by the Argentine Stuttering Association (Asociación Argentina de Tartamudez)


    Later, in 2001 we formed the Integral Team of Advice on Stuttering (Equipo Integral de Asesoramiento en Tartamudez – EIAT) in which one of the goals is to inform and advise in educational settings. Within this area, we published a guidebook for teachers, “Stuttering goes to school”. This first guidebook came up in response to the need of information requested by teachers and also by the disfluent child himself.  The aim of this guidebook is to provide knowledge to teachers necessary to teach in a class in which a disfluent child is present. It covers a wide range of information, from the very basic knowledge about stuttering, its origin, causes, characteristics and warning signals for early detection. On the other hand, this guidebook provides working strategies to evaluate the child properly and to work on the group, child and teacher feelings, thereby achieving the integration of the stuttering child into the classroom.

    An additional way to communicate with teachers was the creation of a web site (www.eiat.8k.com) where they can search for information, as well as ask questions or clarify doubts. We consider this a major approach where teachers from distant places can have direct contact with us. Thus, we have received consultations from teachers from different places in our country and abroad.


    Along with the guidebook publication and the creation of the web site, we hold in-services at schools, aimed at teachers from kindergarten and primary levels as well as headmasters and therapists.


    These meetings are divided into two stages:


    I)              INFORMATIVE STAGE: where basic information is provided about language development, fluency development as a language function and its normal mistakes, warning signals of disfluency, characteristics and causes of stuttering and therapeutic basics. Moreover, problems that may appear in the classroom of  disfluent pupils are discussed and tools which are useful for teachers to integrate disfluent children and to make easier their homework, oral lessons and reading are explained.



    II)            PARTICIPATIVE WORKSHOPS. Specific activities are performed with the aim that teachers could try out and experience their own feelings when they face stuttering or realize about the feelings of a disfluent child. Moreover, taking into account the information received in the first stage of the meeting and having our guidance, in this second stage, teachers may think, analyze, and perform strategies to make their work easier regarding the disfluent pupil and to evaluate him in a proper way, according to academic activities planned for the whole group of pupils.


    It is worthwhile noting that during these meetings, a very rich exchange occurs between our knowledge as language therapists and the teachers´ knowledge of their teaching responsibilities, achieving a mutual and very important way of being closer which provides a better approach to the disfluent child in the classroom.


    As we have seen, the response of teachers who take part in these meetings is highly satisfactory, showing a great interest in this issue. This fact provides a positive feeling in the disfluent child at school and also enhances our therapeutic approach to this child. If a particular case of a stuttering child appears, our help and advice is intensified, making frequent and personal interviews with the child’s teacher, planning strategies together, and respecting each particular case.


    Based on what we have observed in these meetings, we can see that a teacher with the proper knowledge can play the following roles:



    Ö                Act as a preventive agent: many times, teachers are who first to detect disfluency and are the early detectors of the disfluency. A teacher who knows the warning signs in a child who has disfluencies when speaking, can perform this important role.


    Ö                Refer in a proper way: a well-informed teacher can suggest parents refer the child to the stuttering specialist to avoid a chronic stuttering problem.


    Ö                Have a correct attitude in front of the stuttering pupil: we know that the activities performed by the child at school (giving oral lessons, reading aloud, answering questions, asking for an explanation, etc.) increase the cognitive demands for fluency because the child must show his knowledge. There are increased linguistic demands because the child has to frame the message in such a way that he or she can be understood by teachers and partners. There are also increased  emotional demands, because the child has to speak in front of a big audience which may approve or not what he or she says, and who may tease or laugh at him or her. A well-informed teacher will have useful tools to reduce such demands in the classroom, thereby helping   the disfluent child.


    Ö                Help in the therapeutic approach:  many items performed in the treatment by the language therapist will evolve better if they are accompanied and supported at school, particularly on those attitudes developed around disfluencies. Parents should accompany their children treatment, making the proper changes in their communicative style and in their own attitudes and encouraging the youngest children to develop their fluency and teachers should know how the therapeutic approach that the child is undergoing is being performed to help with it. A well- informed teacher can have a better communication with his or her disfluent child, can encourage his or her participation in those moments of better fluency, can help to the therapist to modify negative attitudes and thoughts developed around disfluency and can avoid the development of new negative attitudes, among others.


    Ö                Promote the acceptance and integration of the stuttering child in the classroom.  Especially during school age, it is important for children to be accepted and integrated into their group of peers. The child now knows that besides having his or her parents, he or she belongs to a social group. It is important for him or her to be considered equal to others in the group (Starkweather, 1997). Social, emotional, linguistic and cognitive abilities have an influence, not only from parents, but also from teachers and partners. Besides, we know that teasing is very common at school. The teacher has the authority to manage these situations in the classroom. A well-informed teacher could first of all revise his own feelings about stuttering and have a proper attitude towards it. Then he could transfer this to the group, talking about disfluency as about any other difficulty that everybody has. This provides an important first step towards acceptance and integration


    Our primary aim as a team was to provide basic information. We were surprised by the huge demand that we received.  It is very pleasant for us to say that the response we have received from teachers have made our work richer. We are committed to develop new resources.

    You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the authors before October 22, 2002.

    September 5, 2002