Middle Childhood Intervention: Module Two – Special Needs & Conditions

Category — 2.10 Children with Communication Disorders: Fluency Disorders

Fluency Disorders

Children with fluency disorders have difficulty with the flow of their speech. They often struggle to get their words out. The most common type of fluency disorder is stuttering. In stuttering, children usually:

  • Repeat the first syllable of a word (for example, “ ba ba ba ba baby”);
  • Repeat the first word in a sentence (for example, ” I I I I need help”);
  • Stop in the middle of a sentence and say nothing (for example, “I want ——some juice”).

Children who stutter do not stutter all the time. Stuttering appears to happen in certain situations. The child’s stuttering may get worse if he or she is placed in a stressful situation (speaking in front of the entire class is an example of a stressful situation). Many young children stutter at one point or another in their lives. Some overcome it on their own without the help of a speech and language pathologist. But according to the Stuttering Foundation of America, if a child stutters for more than three to six months or if the stuttering is severe, an appointment with a speech and language pathologist should be made as soon as possible.

The causes of stuttering are not clear. Genetics could play a role in stuttering because it appears to be mostly a boys’ disorder (the boy/girl ratio is 4/1) and it seems to run in families. Also, children who are under extreme amounts of stress and are asked to do a lot more than they can handle could also stutter. However, according to the Stuttering Foundation of America, there is no indication that children who stutter suffer from serious psychological and/or mental health disorders.

Children who stutter are not placed on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in school. However, the teacher could help them by (adapted from the Stuttering Foundation of America (Fig. 1)):

working with kids

Figure 1. Working with kids
  • Being patient and giving them all the time that they need when talking;
  • Not telling them to “slow down” or “relax;”
  • Never finishing their sentences for them;
  • Only asking them questions for which they know the answers (at least in the beginning);
  • Allowing them to give answers by using short, simple sentences;
  • Expecting the same amount of work from them. Children who stutter should be allowed to use shorter sentences. At the same time, they should be expected to submit the same assignments or work as everyone else;
  • Allowing them to read along with someone else during oral reading assignments. This reduces the anxiety level and therefore the degree of stuttering.

Most children who stutter are happy, and they turn into happy, healthy, and well-adjusted adults. They lead full lives and are active and contributing members of society.

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September 3, 2012   No Comments