Classroom Advocacy is essential to support your child who stutters. Faculty and peers will either be part of the solution or part of the problem. Read below for advice for meeting with faculty.
The preschool child may or may not be aware he stutters but he is subject to possible negative reactions from peers and faculty not familiar with stuttering. Improper corrections from teachers can create self-consciousness. Impatient peers can make a child who stutters frustrated and in turn cause an exacerbation of symptoms. A preschooler with a sensitive temperament can develop avoidance habits, whispering, and speech anxiety before age three. Click to Download Handout for Preschool
Holistic advocacy for grades K-12 examines several factors. Examination is needed to determine:
- Is my child being teased, bullied, mocked?
- Is my child stuttering in oral reading and/or oral reports?
- Is my child avoiding, declining, or not volunteering to talk or read?
- Is anyone enabling the stuttering by excusing my child from talking assignments?
- Does his therapy at school address his speech pattern and anxiety? Is it group therapy versus individual therapy?
Did you know a child who stutters is exempt from timed reading fluency tests (i.e., Dibel test)? His stuttering will be counted as errors in pronunciation and his score will be lower than his true reading fluency level. You as a parent want to know about such testing. One child stuttered when verbally answering math tables in a timed contest in his classroom. How do you know about your child’s potential challenges — and possible discrimination — unless you advocate?
A formal meeting with the entire team of teachers is needed. If you only share handouts, the handouts may not be read or implemented. Rather than asking the home room teacher to schedule an appointment call the administration and ask for a 10-15 minute meeting with team: homeroom, PE, specials, art, music, etc.. You might start with a show of hands: “how many of you are aware my son stutters?” Multiple parents have reported that some of the teachers were unaware their child stutters. A child who avoids talking to conceal stuttering is one who may fall through the cracks at school. It works well when the parent says: “My child stutters and he needs your help. Will you help him?” Verbally discuss the reactions that are harmful (see handout) and the strategies that are helpful. If you are cognizant of teasing type issues they need to that you will not tolerate such behavior. The state of Georgia, for example, has very strict anti-bullying laws. Once you talk with the staff you go over the handout together. Tell the teachers that you will follow up with them two weeks after the meeting to compare notes. Did you know a child who stutters is exempt from timed reading fluency tests (i.e., Dibel test)? His stuttering will be counted as errors in pronunciation and his score will be lower than his true reading fluency level. Advocacy in the classroom is integral to a child achieving speech fluency goals.