Stuttering affects many of our students and little to no information is discussed in education circles regarding causes, interventions or cures. Hopefully the following information will shed some light and provide a place for educators, parents, and related service providers to start.
Researchers identified that brains of those who stutter have activated right hemisphere activity, as opposed to left, in motor and pre-motor areas when speaking, as well as a shift in auditory-motor integration to the right hemisphere when not speaking. These shifts are thought to be related to very subtle damages to white matter in the normal processing areas in the left hemisphere. This shift in processing is similar to what research has shown for those who struggle with dyslexia.
What can educators do?
First, if the child is not already working with a speech therapist. Discuss this with the child’s parents and special education teacher/coordinator to initiate the process for them to receive a speech evaluation.
Second, here are some strategies taken from: http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/InfoPWDS/lablance.html
These are not the only strategies or interventions that can be used to help stutters; however, I decided to list these because they can be easily initiated and embedded into any classroom environment.
Provide a Good Speech Model
- Reduce Your Rate of Speech
- Create silences in your interactions Pauses, placed at appropriate places in conversation, help create a relaxed communication environment, a slower rate of speech, and a more natural speech cadence.
- Model simple vocabulary and grammatical forms
- Model normal nonfluencies Children should be aware than even fluent speech contains nonfluencies such as um or ah.
Improve the Child’s Self-Esteem
- Disregard moments of non-fluency (Find a balance between this and #4)
- Show acceptance of what the child expresses rather than how it is said Occasional rephrasing of what the child said focuses attention on content rather than production.
- Treat the child who stutters like any other child in the class. Take the child aside and talk about oral presentations, answering questions aloud in class, and ways you can help.
- Acknowledge nonfluencies without labeling them.
- Help the child feel in control of speech. Follow the child’s lead in conversation.
- Accept nonfluencies. Maintain eye contact and remain patient.
Create a Good Speech Environment
- Establish good conversational rules. Ensure that no one interrupts and that everyone gets a chance to talk.
- Listen attentively Active listening lets the child know that content is important.
- Suggest that the child cease other activities while speaking Asking the child to stop other activities while speaking. Reduce demands for speech during times when the child is required to perform other tasks, such as during art class, gym, and recess.
- Prepare the child for upcoming events Discussing upcoming events can reduce the fear associated with the unknown and should enhance the child’s fluency.
You can also visit the following websites below, which provide additional information, research and strategies for teachers and parents.