Stuttering for Children

Hello professionals again,

As a method of bullying prevention, what do you think is the best approach in teaching children about stuttering?

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Stuttering for Children — 2 Comments

  1. A tough question. And a tough topic.

    One thing that I think is crucial is helping a child distinguish the difference between bullying and curiosity. If a child asks, “Why do you talk like that?”, they may not necessarily be a “mean kid.” Maybe they want to know what is happening. In such a case, a simple response like “I stutter. Sometimes I get stuck on words or it sounds kinda bumpy. It’s okay. Doesn’t hurt or anything.” An informative/educational response may result in more positive feelings for all kids involved.

    When there is actual “meanness” involved, then kids need to have a plan. Take therapy time to prepare for this possible situation. Bullies will find some reason to be mean; stuttering can be an easy target (just like wearing glasses, having the wrong shoes, different hairstyle, too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, etc.) How does the child feel about different responses? “Let’s list a bunch of different things you could say or do if a bully says mean words to you.” Some may be silly and some will be real. Then choose favorite responses. Role play them!

    Then, let kids know what their rights are and what obligations teachers have. By law, bullying episodes need to be reported to the school principal. If the child’s response did not diffuse the situation, what should they do next? Tell the teacher. Tell parents. Tell your SLP. Let adults help you handle it. Let kids know that they are not alone in getting bullied. It happens to lots of kids. There is no shame. Follow the clearly-described plan of action.

    Classroom presentations are also great. I had a CWS punch someone for making fun of his stuttering. He was suspended. A few weeks later, we went to his class and I did a presentation. (He was not ready to do it on his own, so he participated instead.) We discussed facts and myths about stuttering and played a game. Every kid that asked or answered a question, got a lollipop. Kids were excited (to have a guest speaker and get candy), so it made the discussion of stuttering enjoyable and beneficial. The CWS was excited to be able to spout off facts about stuttering and tell the class that he was the “first kid” to have his brain studied in a new research project. I told the kids what the difference between curiosity and meanness looked like, then described what is helpful for kids who stutter.

    Hope this helps! best of luck to you.
    Tricia 🙂

  2. Scott Yaruss and colleagues have done much excellent work in this area, and their published materials have a wealth of great ideas to accomplish this. One idea is to have the child do a class presentation on stuttering, thereby becoming the class “expert” on stuttering, as well as showing potential bullies that he or she is comfortable with stuttering. Not as fun to bully a kid when he or she is not bothered by the issue 🙂