Stuttering Causes School Woes

By Dr. Robert Wallace

September 7, 2015 4 min read

When teachers hear a child begin to stutter, the immediate reaction is one of concern. Should they call on him in class or will that only make the stuttering worse? How should they handle teasing by other children? What should they do about reading aloud?

The nonprofit Stuttering Foundation answers these and many other questions in its 2015 updated brochure, 8 Tips for Teachers:

"As young children busily learn to talk, they may make speech 'mistakes,' such as effortless repetitions and prolonging of sounds," explains Dr. Lisa Scott of The Florida State University. "In most instances," she adds, "this is very normal. If parents and teachers listen to and answer these young children in a patient, calm, unemotional way, the child's speech will probably return to normal."

"Some children, however, will go beyond this and begin to repeat and prolong sounds markedly," explains Scott. "They may begin to struggle, tense up, and become frustrated in their efforts to talk. These children need help."

"Any time teachers are concerned about a child's fluency," notes Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, "they should consult with the school speech clinician as well as the parents to make sure their approach to the child's speech is consistent." She advises teachers to "Talk with the child privately and reassure him or her of your support; let them know that you are aware of their stuttering and that you accept it — and them."

For more answers to questions about stuttering and a free copy of "8 Tips for Teachers," available in English and in Spanish, contact the Stuttering Foundation at 800-992-9392, or download these brochures free at www.stutteringhelp.org. Parents are also encouraged to request this important information. P.S. — I support the Stuttering Foundation 100 percent.

IF YOU DON'T SMOKE, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

DR. WALLACE: I know that the long-term effects of smoking can include lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. Most teens don't seem to worry about these because they take so long to develop. Maybe if we emphasized the short-term effects of smoking, we could make a better impact. — Bob, Brunswick, Ga.

BOB: Good idea! First, let me remind everyone who is flirting with the smoking habit right now that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. If you don't smoke, count your blessings. You are still in possession of your own life.

The immediate effects of smoking include: bloodshot eyes, stained teeth, brittle hair, gum disease, a reduced sense of smell and a higher risk of sinus headaches. You can also experience leg cramps, circulation problems in fingers and toes, dark circles under the eyes, and even yellow fingernails, according to the American and Canadian Cancer Societies. You can add that the smoker smells like a chimney.

All of these are good reasons not to start smoking, or if you have started, to quit now, before you're hooked. Once that happens, dumping the habit is excruciatingly difficult; often the only motivation for doing so is failing health. Unfortunately, every day about 3,000 U.S. citizens choose to start using tobacco products. This is a choice they will eventually regret.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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