Strategies so that students who stutter stop suffering in class

effect that those experiences had on their lives in the short and long term. Strategies so that students who stutter stop suffering in class.

Strategies so that students who stutter stop suffering in class
Strategies so that students who stutter stop suffering in class

School has been a hostile context for students who stutter, mainly due to problems related to oral participation in class and bullying. The retrospective research collects numerous testimonies from adults who recall the suffering of the school stage and the negative effect that those experiences had on their lives in the short and long term. Strategies so that students who stutter stop suffering in class.

It is necessary to ask whether, currently, the 1% of students who stutter in Primary Education continue to experience the same risk of exclusion, despite the profound changes that teaching has undergone.

Teachers stress that the situation has not improved; They recognize that these students are the great strangers of the school and that they do not know how to help them. So is it possible to change the situation of students who stutter? Who should change: the school or these students?

Reduce anxiety when reading

The inclusive school model places difficulties in the contexts in which they occur and, consequently, acts to change those contexts. Thus, by reducing anticipatory anxiety during reading aloud moments, the difficulties of students who stutter can be largely resolved. Stuttering in school is not conceived then as a problem of an individual that must be cured, but as a difficulty related to the management of school coexistence and oral participation. From this perspective, teachers, working as a team, are the professionals who can contribute the most to improve the school life of these students.

Is it possible to accept stuttering as a way of speaking at school? The level of acceptance will depend on the work done to change the negative attitudes of peers and teachers.

According to studies on the content of the stereotype, teachers characterize students who stutter as insecure, introverted, self-conscious, nervous, shy, emotional, agitated, lonely, dissatisfied, and intelligent. They also recognize their suffering, but they do not know how to help them due to lack of training and because they believe that this disorder should be treated by a speech therapist and that they can do little.

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This prejudice paralyzes them to solve the problem. There is the main barrier. It will be eliminated by spreading awareness of stuttering in the school. An initial three-hour workshop with an expert speech therapist will be enough to understand the problem, to identify school barriers, and to take action. The first action will be to invite the teacher to personally contact and offer, in an explicit and empathetic way, recognition and support to the student who stutters.

How to make participation more flexible?

Making participation more flexible will aim to avoid anticipatory anxiety that exacerbates stuttering. The strategies presented below will only be effective when the teacher conceives himself, in addition to a source of knowledge, as a source of self-esteem for all his students. Then it is possible that the negative reactions do not impact on the image that the students who stutter create about themselves as a learner, as a communicator and as a person.

  • A contract will be drawn up and signed with the student in which a hierarchy of difficulty in dealing with reading and speaking situations in class will be collected. In each case, the effect of the experience on the group and on the student who stutters must be verified in a lucid action-research process.
  • Furthermore, to make participation more flexible in practice, cooperative work and peer tutoring will be the most effective means. In a cooperative environment it is possible to participate in small groups or in pairs: the teacher asks a couple to read and, between them, they decide who is going to read on that occasion or if they do it in a choral way.
  • Another option is for students to read to their peers (carefully selected by the teacher) or individually to the teacher or to the small group or, most difficult in the hierarchy, to the whole group when they agree to take on the challenge. In that case, research has found that the best way to avoid anticipatory anxiety is to intervene second or third.

Use different speech patterns

Regarding the way of reading and speaking, different speech patterns can be practiced in the classroom, trying to reduce the speed, increase the pauses, space the turns, use easy starts (with words that begin with a vowel) and soft contacts in the coarticulation (for example, slightly lengthening voiced consonants such as be, de, or ge. This alternative speech pattern that will be used by the teacher and the whole group at specific moments will greatly facilitate the participation of students who stutter.

The inclusive model represents an opportunity for these students. Perhaps it can be realized through these actions to improve the quality of their school life.