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Stammering advice for teachers and others

Are you a teacher who has a pupil who stammers?

Some people get nervous when a child stammers, because they worry that they need to help them but don’t know what to do. Don’t worry. There is nothing wrong with children who stammer, it’s just the way they talk. They might get a little stuck on a sound, they might repeat a sound lots of times or they might stretch out sounds, a bit lllllllike this. It’s important that you remain calm and listen to them like you would listen to anyone else who is talking to you. Your calm response will be a great help to them!

Helpful tips

  • Keep natural eye contact with the child or young person when they are talking, especially during moments of stammering
  • Give them time to finish what they want to say, without interrupting or finishing their sentences
  • Slow down your own speech and use more pauses. This is the best way of helping the child or young person to feel unhurried. Don’t tell then to ‘slow down’, ‘take a breath’, or ‘think about what you’re saying’. These will not help, and may make talking more difficult.
  • Reduce the number of direct questions that you ask. Too many questions, especially open questions that require more complex answers, can make it more difficult for a child or young person to be fluent.
  • Try to simplify questions, where possible, by providing two choices. For example, change an open question, such as ‘What is the book about?’ to a simpler question, such as ‘Is the book about a lost dog or a burglar?’
  • Where possible, be flexible with activities that the child finds difficult. For example, raising hands for registration, instead of answering verbally or reading aloud with another child, rather than alone. It is better to involve the whole class in any changes, rather than singling out the student who stammers.
  • Avoid putting the child or young person on the spot. This can add a lot of pressure to them. Instead, allow them to decide if and when they would like to contribute and give some pre-warning if their turn will be coming up soon.
  • Be flexible in how they can contribute to class discussions. For example, allow responses from their table, let children use props to give answers etc. It would be a good idea to speak to the child or young person to ask what their preferences would be.
  • Reinforce turn-taking rules. Although it is important to let children who stammer finish their sentences, it is also important that they understand and follow the same turn-taking rules as others. Therefore, these should be reinforced with the class as a whole.
  • Build confidence by praising the child for things they do well (not related to stammering). Point out what you noticed, and what was good about it, for example, ’You explained that very well’.
  • Ensure that all staff, including lunchtime staff, are aware of the child’s stammering and the best ways to help.
  • Ensure that any teasing or bullying is dealt with immediately and be sensitive in how you talk about stammering in front of others. Don’t make it sound like a problem, but emphasise that it’s just a different way of talking.

Stammering posters for teachers

A new series of posters co-produced by Action for Stammering Children and NHS South West Yorkshire Partnership. These five new posters were designed by young people who stammer, with an aim of educating schools and the wider community about how it feels to stammer – from the perspective of a young person. About My Stammer posters – print version

 

A series of posters created by Abed Ahmed, Mr ST @stammer_teacher, on what stammering is and what you can do to support young people who stammer. Abed is a teacher with a stammer who helps young people who stammer. Stammering posters for teachers – print version

 

Additional resources and information

This 10 minute video was developed at the Michael Palin Centre as a resource for teachers and any others who want to know how to support a child who stammers or stutters. The children and young people who stutter tell you what they want you to know. This initiative was funded by the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families: Wait, wait, I’m not finished yet 

Resources for teachers – The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering

Tips and advice from a teacher on: Supporting children who stammer

With thanks to Barnsley Speech and Language Therapy Service: Hey it’s ok to stammer

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Stammering Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Disclaimer

Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL108

Resource Type: Article

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