The teasing that hurts all children is doubly hurtful to those who stutter.

Teachers can help by addressing both teasing and stuttering at the beginning of the school year following expert advice in a new brochure published by the Stuttering Foundation.

In addition to tips on handling teasing, the brochure provides guidance on how to deal with reading aloud, calling on the child, and other questions teachers routinely have when a child stutters in their classroom.

Parents of children who stutter often give a copy of The Child Who Stutters: Notes to the Teacher to their child's instructor during the first week of class. The brochure is also available in Spanish.

"Young children are busily learning to talk," explains Dr. Lisa Scott of The Florida State University." As such, they may have effortless repetitions and prolonging of sounds. In most instances," she adds, "This is very normal. If parents and teachers listen to and answer these young children in a patient, calm, unemotional way, the child's speech will probably return to normal."

Some children, however, will go beyond the normal and begin to repeat and prolong sounds markedly," explains Scott. "They may begin to struggle, tense up, and become frustrated in their efforts to talk. These children need help."

"Any time teachers are concerned about a child's fluency," notes Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, "they should consult with the school speech clinician as well as the parents to make sure their approach to the child's speech is consistent." She advises teachers, "Talk with the child privately and reassure him or her of your support; let them know that you are aware of their stuttering and that you accept it - and them."


 8 Tips for Teachers

1. Don't tell the child to slow down or "relax."

2. Don't complete words for the child or talk for him or her.

3. Help all members of the class learn to take turns talking and listening. All children - and especially those who stutter - find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions and they have the listener's attention.

4. Expect the same quality and quantity of work from the student who stutters as the one who doesn't.

5. Speak with the student in an unhurried way, pausing frequently.

6. Convey that you are listening to the content of the message, not how it was said.

7. Have a one-on-one conversation with the student who stutters about needed accommodations in the classroom. Respect the student's needs but do not be enabling.

8. Don't make stuttering something to be ashamed of. Talk about stuttering just like any other matter.

Compiled by Lisa Scott, Ph.D., The Florida State University