How A Teacher Can Help a Student Who Stutters
You have a student in your classroom who stutters. What do you do now? There are no “quick fixes” for stuttering, but speech therapy can help a student learn to manage and improve their communication. Speech therapy can help decrease the negative impact of stuttering so that it is not a factor in their lives.
Not all stuttering looks alike. Speech Language Pathologists not only treat what the student does (ex. It is m-m-m-my turn), but we also treat what can’t be seen. For example, a student might avoid talking, change their words and not volunteer to read because of their stuttering. Stuttering is more than just a speech behavior. Stuttering can affect every aspect of a student’s life and particularly how they feel about themselves. We must let our students know that what they have to say is important no matter how they say it. Besides you being the one to create the learning atmosphere, you create the communication atmosphere. If you show support and acceptance for the child who stutters, others around you will as well. Here are some tips to help you.
- Set the pace in your classroom by providing a comfortable communication environment with minimum time pressures for speaking.
- Show patience and acceptance when talking to all of the children in your class. By creating an atmosphere where differences are accepted, you can support the child who stutters, regardless of how fluently he or she speaks.
- Be a resource for the Speech Language Pathologist in that you observe communication. Does this student participate in class discussions? Does this student raise his or her hand to ask/answer questions? How do other students react to this student’s stuttering?
- When your student is talking, don’t do the following: finish their sentences, rush them or tell them to “stop” or “think about what you are going to say.” Suggestions you give them are well-meaning, but they probably won’t help and could inadvertently increase communication pressure.
- When your student is talking, do the following: maintain eye contact, don’t let others talk for this student and encourage turn taking when talking.
(Information from School Age Stuttering: How Teachers Can Help by Reeves and Yaruss)
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