Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. Stuttering is also referred to as stammering.
More than 70 million people worldwide stutter. In the U.S., that’s over 3 million Americans who stutter. Approximately 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more. Three-quarters of those will recover by late childhood, leaving about 1 percent with a long-term problem. The best prevention tool is early intervention.
Stuttering affects four times as many males as females.
The Stuttering Foundation provides free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering. Visit stutteringhelp.org for more, including these eight tips for school employees:
1. Don’t tell the student “slow down” or “just relax.”
2. Don’t complete words for the student or talk for him or her.
3. Help all members of the class learn to take turns talking and listening. All students—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 is 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