15 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PJ
Tel: 020 8983 1003
Email: info@stammeringineducation.net

Core messages

Statistically speaking, an average primary school will have children who stammer - if you do not know them, they have managed to hide their stammer.

Identification 

  • About one in twenty children stammer at the pre-school stage and intervention at this stage is most effective. One researcher has suggested that it is as many as one in twelve. 
  • About one in eighty school children stammer. Boys are much more likely to be affected than girls.
  • There is no single cause, although there may be a genetic link. There is no single or definite cure and there is no single best strategy for supporting pupils. Current research indicates that the cause of stammering has a physiological basis in the brain structure. 

The nature of stammering 

  • It is a very unpredictable and variable condition and children will react differently to their speech problem and need different forms of support. 
  • It varies in severity and a child may have fluent periods and then revert to stammering for no apparent reason. 

Support for pupils who stammer 

  • Liaise with the parents and the speech and language therapist and talk with the child about what helps him. 
  • As it can cause the child to have an undue sense of urgency about talking, managing the classroom situation to allow the child time to complete his answer and communicating this to the child will be very helpful. 
  • It is good practice to have support within a 'whole- class, whole- school policy' on communication and to follow school policy on teasing and bullying.
  • There is evidence to suggest that children who stammer are more likely to be bullied and become more anxious as a consequence..
  • Children who stammer can be very adept at hiding their condition behind a range of behaviours, such as using filler words (like 'sort of' etc), pretending not to know the answer, challenging/ withdrawn behaviour etc. 
  • For some children, the effects of stammering may present in negative behaviours (the iceberg syndrome) - a child may appear almost fluent but will still be severely affected by stammering.  
  • Listen to WHAT is being said, rather than how it is said. In severe cases, listen to keywords and repeat them back in a closed question to show you have understood the message. 
  • Giving a child alternative strategies (pointing, signing, writing down answers etc) may relieve speech pressure and may make it more likely that the child will choose to interact verbally.
  • There is no evidence that children who stammer differ in anyway way psychologically or in intelligence from their non-stammering peers - therefore never underestimate potential. 

Language development 

  • Use differential strategies for oral work. 
  • Make a sensitive judgement about the language demands on the child and avoid complex oral tasks when the stammer is severe. Introduce more complex tasks when the child feels more confident and is able to accept more demands on his speech, so that his potential for language development is maximised. 

Simple strategies 

  • These are simple strategies, which can be implemented in the classroom settings without the need for extensive training. An awareness of good communication will benefit all the children in the class as well as the child who stammers. 

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