If you think that a child that you are working with may be stammering, the next step is discuss this with their parent/carer. By discussing this together, if you are all in agreement that professional help is needed, then the child can be referred to a Speech and Language Therapist.
If a child is really struggling and giving up, and is aware of the problem then it is okay to mention it to them sensitively but always discuss this with the parent/carer first.
Our partner, the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children has the following advice:
“That was a hard word to say but well done, you tried your best”
- Avoid saying the word for the child. It is very tempting to help them when they are stammering, but it is better to give them the time to finish it for themselves
- Being patient and giving time is really helpful
- If the child is aware and wants to talk about the problem, you might come up with some helpful ideas together. For example, it is harder to be fluent when everyone is talking at once, so knowing that they will get their turn will help
- Help them to feel that there is no hurry to finish, by slowing down your own rate of talking (this will also make you aware of how hard it is to slow our talking down!)
- Please don’t tell the child to slow down or take a deep breath. The former is impossible and the latter can become part of the struggling to talk
- Praise them for the things that they are doing well. Try not to focus only on their talking
- Don’t ask lots of questions, one after another. One will do! Remember to give them time to reply
- Keep your language simple. This will help the child not to make their sentences too long and complicated, which can affect fluency.
‘Stammering: A Practical Guide for Teachers and other Professionals’
Developed by Rustin, L., Cook, F., Botterill, W., Hughes, C. & Kelman, E, it offers advice and information for teachers about dealing with younger children, primary school children and secondary-aged pupils who stammer.
Title: Stammering: A Practical Guide for Teachers and Other Professionals
Written by: Rustin, L., Cook, F., Botterill, W., Hughes, C. & Kelman, E.
Published by: David Fulton: London ISBN 1-85346-585-2
This is available from a number of online shops including Amazon.
The following suggestion sheets have been developed by our partner the Michael Palin Centre. It offers advice and suggestions in regard to how ou can support a pupil/student that stammers. Every pupil will react different, and support levels may vary.
Download the suggestion sheet here
Being bilingual does not cause stammering and lots of children learn two languages and don’t stammer. For the child who stammers, learning two languages at once can be difficult to manage and may impact on their fluency.
The general advice is very similar to the suggestions outlined above. It is important to consider the language skills of the child and how long they have been learning English, to know what can be expected of them linguistically. Children who are delayed in their language development will benefit from additional time to plan and organise what they want to say and to retrieve the vocabulary they need.