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  • Lori Melnitsky

Understanding school age stuttering..

Stuttering in School-Age Children

“Stuttering is painful. In Sunday school, I’d try to read my lessons and the children behind me were falling on the floor with laughter” – James Earl Jones

Stuttering is never easy for a school-age child. They are their own individual and you have no one size fits all treatment for stuttering. Negative comments and feedback often develop fear in children, and you’ll notice that they become less responsive to treatments. Children start avoiding conversations and situations to avoid being bullied or teased. These experiences may have a long-standing impact on their self-confidence and attitude towards life. Especially with children in their developmental age, it’s important to deal with stuttering sensitively. When working with an experienced Speech Language Therapist, they can assess children and suggest the best course of treatment.

Stuttering in children can become an emotional rollercoaster. From making friends to socializing in school, any communication opportunity can become awkward and painful for them. Recent statistics indicated that about 35% of school-aged kids reported they have been teased or bullied at some time. They are always seeking social acceptance, with stuttering, it can become a real struggle, if not managed or treated properly. Emotional imbalance in children due to stuttering can lead to self-esteem, lack of confidence, poor school performance, and even depression.

Parents of school-aged children who stutter

Children who have been stuttering from their pre-school age are less likely to grow out of it. Hence, as parents, it’s important to seek out therapy to minimize their anxiety, improve their confidence, and manage their stuttering better. If not well managed or addressed with the right treatments, school-aged children often tend to find an increase in their stuttering. Having presentations in class, reading out loud sessions in front of their peer are all instances that can call for bullying. It can increase the level of frustration amongst children and they eventually start developing avoidance behaviors. Even a little support goes a long way. Here are some ways to support your school-aged child with their stutter.

  1. Avoid interrupting the speaker, take turns to speak, and stay patient to let them complete their conversation.

  2. Speak to his/her teacher and help create a supportive environment for your child in the class.

  3. Give your children the time to finish their thoughts and reduce their frustration while having a conversation.

  4. Always encourage your child to talk to you about fun and easy topics. Provide them with a relaxed environment for it.

Difference between stuttering modification and fluency-enhancing techniques

Stuttering modification strategies help students to increase awareness of stuttered speech, examine and reduce physical tension. They can also help decrease sensitivity about stuttering and reduce negative reactions. With these strategies, you have an opportunity to increase feelings of control, openness, and acceptance amongst children. Whereas, fluency-enhancing strategies or fluency shaping techniques are about teaching children to alter and practice breathing speech rate, voice production, and articulation. This helps students in developing fluent speech. As they become better and fluent, you can see a direct impact on their self-confidence too. Both of these therapies help children successfully manage their speech.

Fluency shaping is recommended based on the assessment of the child on factors like speech fluency, language factors, and emotional components. This treatment helps make changes or alter the timing of speech. Speech modification techniques include continuous phonation, prolonged syllables, and light articulatory contact to name a few.

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