Should I talk about a pupil's stammer with the class?

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Every child is different and how they feel about their stammer will differ too. Some children and young people find it helpful to discuss stammering openly with their peers, while others would prefer not to. The best way to answer this question is by suggesting that you speak directly with the student about what they would find helpful. 

Awareness about stammering can be incorporated into broader discussions about diversity and inclusion, although it is important that pupils are aware of any plans for their teacher or school to actively promote stammering awareness. This article details some ideas for facilitating discussion around and promoting awareness about stammering in the school context.

  • There are a number of books that can often be accessed from the local or school library, which many children and young people who stammer have told us they have enjoyed. These stories can help to increase understanding and dispel misconceptions around stammering amongst peers. For example:
    • 'How To Be More Hedgehog' by Anne-Marie Conway
    • 'The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh' by Helen Rutter
    • 'I Talk Like A River' by Jordan Scott
    • 'Little Big' by Hassan Aly
    • 'The Stuttering Coach' by Martin Scott
    • ‘What’s going on inside my head?’ by Sally Potter
    • 'Stammering Pride & Prejudice: Difference not Defect‘ edited by Patrick Campbell, Sam Simpson and Chris Constantino

  • Talk about what makes a confident communicator
    • Circle time can be a great place to focus on the most important reasons we communicate: to share ideas, make friends, share a joke, ask questions to show an interest in others. In other words it is important to focus on the ‘what is being said’ and ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’ the words are coming out.

  • Normalising dysfluencies – watch clips of famous people talking to notice typical hesitations, repetitions and ‘ums’/’ers’ to illustrate that there are differences in how we all speak and the way we speak does not need to impact on the message or achievements of an individual.

When you are talking directly about a stammer, consider the following:

  • Avoid talking about the stammer in terms of ‘good/bad’ speaking. This can make the child feel like they have failed and that it means they have been ‘bad’ themselves.
  • Instead, use ‘more’ and ‘less’ e.g. “He has been stammering more lately". This keeps the language neutral and is not a reflection of the person themselves.
  • Talk about the features of a stammer neutrally e.g. “I heard a bumpy/longer/stuck sound”.

It can be a good idea to collaborate with the child’s/school Speech and Language Therapist and to ask the pupil directly what they would feel comfortable discussing and sharing with peers.

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