4 things I wish my parents knew about stuttering.
1. Speech therapy does work
Ever since I can remember, I have always stuttered. When I started school I became so self-conscious of my severe stutter that I asked my parents if I could see a speech therapist. Trying to be reassuring my parents convinced me that there was no need for therapy
“We love you just the way you are,” they said.
As comforting as these words were, years later I found myself ill-prepared to compete on the job market against more eloquent speakers. The good news is that stuttering can be cured, especially if speech therapy is started when the child is very young. 2. Stuttering does not always go away by itself
“Don’t worry about your child’s stutter, it will go away,” I can remember a family doctor telling my mother, when she’d inquired if she could be referred to a speech therapist.
That was welcome news to my young mind. I would not spend the rest of my life with strangers gaping at me whenever I spoke. I was sure that by age 18 I would be speaking fluently.
But come 18, nothing changed. To this day I still stutter. I’ve grudgingly accepted my stutter as part of my personality. Did the good doctor lie to my mother? Not really. He forgot to mention that of all the kids who stutter, about 80% of them get over it without therapy. I was one of the unfortunate 20%. 3. Your child’s teacher might not know how to deal with the child’s stutter
During my school years, about 90% of the teachers did not know how to deal with my speech impediment. Fortunately, because I was an above average student my grades did not suffer. I rarely got the chance to read aloud to the teachers. Naturally shy, I would refuse to read aloud simply saying “I can’t read.”
Some teachers would just shrug and leave me alone. I missed invaluable lessons in improving my verbal skills. Private reading sessions would have done the trick.
These days there is a plethora of websites on the subject of stuttering. As a parent, you should find as much information as you can and schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher to share information on how your child can best be helped. 4. You can do something to help your child
“Well I’m not a speech therapist,” a parent might conclude.” There isn’t much I can do.”
Actually, there is a lot that a parent can do to help a stuttering child.
- Help the child relax when he speaks. (Stuttering affects more males than females.)
- Do not interrupt him when he speaks.
- Listen to your child read, this boosts his self-confidence.
- Encourage him to speak slowly.
- Speak clearly and slowly and the child will pick up good language skills.
All this will improve fluency. Most of all get the help of a speech therapist who specializes in helping children who stutter.
Does your child stutter? How do you help him with this?