1. Never interrupt a child who is stuttering.
Sometimes people working with children living with a stutter will try to finish a child’s sentence or try to complete the conversation swiftly if the child stutters. This can occur when people are worried about how the child is feeling or they themselves feel uncomfortable with the situation. It is important to allow a child to finish what they have to say without interruption, as a child who stutters knows exactly what they want to say. Giving children who stutter the time and attention they deserve will provide them with a positive communication experience.
2. Never imitate a child who is stuttering.
I wish that this could go without saying, but it is something that still happens today. Unfortunately, I hear from clients and their families that well-meaning relatives or teachers can sometimes imitate a child’s stutter without understanding the gravity of what they’re doing. When you imitate a child’s stutter as they are stuttering, it is harmful to their self-esteem and also can create unspoken permission for others around them to take part in this imitating behaviour.
3. Think about how your feedback may come across to a child who stutters
Looking past the stutter and appreciating the child’s clever comments and conversational topics is important. Quite often people who are working with children who stutter may ask children to ‘slow down’ or ‘say it again, but properly’. It’s important to allow children to speak freely. This type of feedback draws attention to the child’s stutter and can make children feel self-conscious about their stutter as opposed to empowered about the important things that they have to say.
The Lidcombe Program focuses on positive reinforcement, which may include comments such as, ‘Wow! I love how smoothly you said ‘Hello’ to me!’ or may even be a ‘high 5’ for smooth talking. ‘Smooth talking’ is a phrase that can be used in a positive manner when a child speaks fluently (without stuttering).
4. Encourage children in a positive and nurturing manner
Sometimes children may fall silent after stuttering. If this should occur, reassure the child that what they have to say is important and that you’d love to hear their thoughts. It’s important to be positive and encourage children living with a stutter to be a part of discussions and be confident in their ability to communicate.
5. Seek assistance from a qualified Speech Pathologist who specialises in fluency
Speech Pathologists who specialise in fluency attend training that allows them to be up to date with the latest evidence for fluency (stuttering) treatment. Speech Pathologists work closely with children who stutter, their family and community. This ensures that a well-organised and evidence-based program is implemented to assist children in speaking smoothly (with minimal stuttering or without stuttering). The ‘gold standard’ for children 6 years and under is the ‘Lidcombe Program’. It’s best to ask the clinic that you’d like to attend if this is a program that is offered by their Speech Pathologists.
Please feel free to contact Talkative Allied Health Services on 08 8361 8858 to book an appointment with one of our trained Speech Pathologists.