Stammering & Fluency Q & A


This article gives ideas, strategies and answers the most common questions around stammering and fluency issues we hear from our parents and teachers. Supporting children in the manner may alleviate the stress and anxiety around speaking at home and in the classroom.

Q: Why is it helpful to ask fewer questions when talking to a child who stammers?
A: Pressure to talk can be particularly stressful for children who stammer. They need to respond quickly and this can make them more likely to stammer.
Using a comment rather than a question gives your child an invitation to talk if he wants to. For example:
“You seem to have had a good day at school today”
If you do really need to ask a question, try to
• Give plenty of time for him to answer
• Only ask one question at a time

Q: Why is Slowing Down and Pausing an effective strategy ?
A: We often ask children to “slow down” their talking when we hear them stammering.
In fact, telling your child to slow down does not always help their talking. For some children it just means they have one more thing to think about when talking!
You don’t need to tell your child to slow down, instead try slowing down yourself.

Why is it helpful for children with stammering issues for adults around them slow down?
Slowing down gives your child more time to think
It gives the feeling that there is plenty of time and he doesn’t need to rush.
It makes your speech easier for him to understand.
You can set a slow and steady pace for talking.
These things can all help your child be more fluent.

Slowing down can be difficult to begin with, but you will get better the more you practice
For many families, home life is very busy. There are routines and jobs that need to be done regularly as well as dealing with the unexpected. There may be times when you just can’t listen to your child because you have too much to do.
There will be times when you just don’t have time – that’s ok! Just let them know when you will be able to listen.

Why is it helpful to give children who are stammering more time?
A: Children who stammer can take longer to get their message across. Trying to rush a child who stammers can make them take even longer, or make them give up completely.
Let your child talk and play at their own speed.
Give them time to talk and choose.

Q: Why is it helpful for a child who stammers if you follow their lead?
A: Telling your child what to do means that your child has to follow your instructions. This puts pressure on their language and play skills and will make them more likely to stammer.
It keeps the play activity at the child’s pace
It reduces the demands on your child
It encourages your child to develop problem solving and self confidence

Q: Why is taking turns important for children who are stammering?
A: Competing for talking time puts pressure on your child and means they are more likely to stammer.
Taking turns keeps the atmosphere calm and relaxed and makes your child feel that their contributions are important.
Try and make sure that everyone has a turn when talking or playing.
Demonstrate waiting and taking turns during conversation.
If your child has something to say while someone else is talking, encourage them to keep it “in their head” until it is their turn.
Make sure no one speaks for too long
Giving specific praise will help you focus on all the good things that your child is doing

Q: Why is giving praise helpful for children who stammer?
A: Praise makes children feel more confident about themselves. The more confident your child feels, the better they will feel about talking.
We often focus on correcting children’s speech, which can send a negative message. By focusing on what they are doing well, we are encouraging them to do more of it!
Try to give specific praise – it can be about something quite small, e.g.
“You tidied up all by yourself – well done!”
Also, try to praise your child’s talking skills, e.g.
“You used a really long word – that was clever!”

Q: How can I implement this information practically ?

A: Special Time
Set aside 10 minutes every day for a “special time” when you know you won’t be interrupted and use this time to concentrate on your child’s speech and your strategy. Special time is a way of building fluency by reducing pressure on your child

Setting up a Special Time
Special time is a way of focusing on using your strategy with your child and should be in addition to any play times you already have.
• Set aside 5-10 minutes with your child
• Go into another room so you won’t be disturbed
• Turn off the television or radio
• Ask your child to choose something for you to do together
• Spend 5-10 minutes doing whatever your child has chosen
• During this time, concentrate on using your strategy from above
• Tell your child when it is nearly time to stop
• End the special time and thank your child for playing

After your special time, fill in your diary sheet. This is your way of recording what you did so you can discuss your child’s progress with the speech and language therapist

For further information around new treatments.

It is also worth taking a look at the word finding article and phonological awareness, as fluency issues can be linked to this area of need.

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