Stuttering affects the fluency, or flow, of speech. People who stutter repeat or
prolong certain sounds, syllables, or words. These disruptions are called dysfluencies.
Dysfluencies aren't necessarily a problem, but they can impair communication if they
Stuttering begins during childhood, usually when a child is around 2 years old.
Often, it goes away on its own by age 5. For other people, though, it can last longer,
even throughout life.
Students who stutter may:
feel nervous, embarrassed, and frustrated when they're talking in class
have to miss class time to attend speech therapy
speak slowly or use relaxation techniques to help them speak more clearly
change words for fear of stuttering
try to avoid situations that require talking
make facial or body movements when they stutter
Also keep in mind that students who stutter are at risk for being bullied.
What Teachers Can Do
Because stuttering can isolate students from their classmates, it's essential that
teachers provide help and support. Be patient when students who stutter are speaking.
Teach all students the importance of not interrupting and giving everyone the time
to express their thoughts and finish their own sentences.
Be a role model by speaking clearly yourself in an unhurried way. You may want
to ask questions in ways that let students who stutter give brief answers, or consider
letting them substitute written work for oral presentations. Allow make-up work for
missed assignments due to speech therapy appointments.
Check with your student's speech-language pathologist (SLP) and
parents or guardians to learn about your student's specific needs. You also can talk
privately with the student and get his or her input on what's helpful and what's not.