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Son Has Stammer

  • 21-02-2011 12:56am
    Closed Accounts Posts: 34

    Lately I have noticed that my 7 year old son is beginning to develop a stammer. He is getting mocked in school. My wife and I are considering home-schooling him because of this. Is there any way we can help him as we want him to live a normal life and not be discriminated against because of a condition thats not his fault.
    I don't know much about stammers so I'd like to ask a few questions.
    1. Is it an actual disability or is it just a lack of confidence?
    2. Can it be corrected, and if so, how?
    3. How normal a life can he live with this problem?


  • Registered Users Posts: 366 ✭✭sadie9

    Take him to see a speech therapist. You can ring your local HSE Health Centre and ask for the Speech Therapy Dept. There are also private speech therapists.
    You, as parents, need to become experts in stuttering, that's the best thing you can do for your child.

    Stuttering in no-one’s fault. It just happens to some children. Simple as that. Stop looking for reasons or causes in the child, or yourselves or wherever.
    It is not nervousness. It is not the child’s fault in any way, shape or form.

    Tell him it’s no-one’s fault and it’s nothing he’s doing wrong. It just happens to some children, even more so with those who are very good at language.
    And that lots of children just grow out of it as they get older. Lots of famous people stammer or did so as children, if you look up the websites I’ve listed below you’ll get more info. Tiger Woods and Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) to name just two!

    Do not tell the child to slow down, think ahead or repeat the words. Keep your face pleasant and unconcerned no matter how severe the speech is.
    You need to give him the message that what he says is important not HOW he says it. Always respond to the person not the stuttering.

    Telling him to slow down etc, gives the impression he has some control over it – he hasn’t.
    If he thinks people around him are worried about it, he’ll be worried about, he’ll try to stop doing it, and that makes the stuttering more severe.

    If it were me, I would on no account take the child out of school. You’ll only further isolate him from his friends.
    And you may give him the impression his problem is so bad he needs to be taken out of society.

    You are looking to protect him, I understand that, but you could be going the wrong way about it.
    This child needs to feel that he’s loved and accepted by all important to him no matter what way his speech is.
    And if people have a problem with his speech or tease him – that’s it their problem not his.

    I’d be finding out who teased him and I’d be calling around to their parent’s houses with leaflets and printouts on stuttering and asking them to make their child aware of the issue.
    That’ll soon shut them up.

    You need to protect him by making those who come into contact with him aware of the stuttering.
    Letting the teachers know. Tell the teachers to tell him to report anyone who teases him about his speech.
    Sadly most teachers know little or nothing about it. The speech therapists don’t contact the schools or anything like that.
    So an awareness campaign is your first project. This is so teachers won’t be at the ‘take a big breath now’ ‘slow down’ type of carry on.

    Talk to him about it. Tell him you understand it probably doesn’t feel good when his speech is ‘bumpy’ at school and stuff, but that this happens to a lot of children, and some days it gets easier and some days a bit harder, and there’s lots of things you can do about it. Using the word ‘bumpy’ rather than ‘stammer’ or ‘stutter’ is better at this age.

    The child should be consulted as to what they would like to do themselves at school in terms of reading or answering the teacher, that’s my opinion.
    Between yourselves and the teacher you should be able to work out how to remove pressure on his speech (things like reading aloud or having to do ‘my news’ in class for example) – but at the same time not make the child stand out because of his exclusion from these activities.

    This is not something that can be treated in isolation in the speech therapist’s room. The parents can be a huge source of help and support for the child as they are there with the child 24/7 the speech therapist can only work on one aspect – the fluency. The parents need to get behind the child in terms of stamping out teasing and making the child feel normal (but not by ignoring the problem).
    As much as possible you need to talk about the issue as if it were any matter – like if he had broken leg. By tiptoeing around the subject and being afraid that you'll hurt his feelings if you talk about it, you will actually make him feel that it's something to be hidden and be ashamed of.

    The majority of children grow out of stuttering if they get the right support.

    Some websites: (Michael Palin centre – specialist centre in the UK for children who stutter – good section for parents on this one). (Irish Stammering Association, they have a parents support group and a children's group). (British Stammering Association) (Stuttering Foundation of America) – some very good tips on this one for dealing with children who stutter).

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 34 Average_Joe

    Thanks, its good to see that there is some hope left for him. I'm just worried he wont grow out of it and he wont live a normal life. We cant afford to bring him to a speech therapist or a psychiatrist. Can we get funding from the government or something??

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,891 ✭✭✭Stephen P

    Good advice there by sadie9.

    Any Speech & Language Therapist will advise that early intervention is very important, so contact your Local HSE Centre. Going through the HSE shouldn't cost you anything.
    People who stammer live normal lives, I stammer and live a normal happy life. While it can be difficult to live with sometimes, its who I am and I've accepted it. You should educate yourself on stammering, do research online etc., it's important that you know the facts. From my experience people who know nothing or very little about it don't seek any help and are misinformed on the causes and "cures".

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,554 ✭✭✭steve9859

    I had a stammer that started when I was around 8, for no reason, and I got teased a lot at school. It was actually a block similar to what you might have seen in 'The Kings Speech'. I couldnt read aloud in class, I messed up my line in a school play in front of my parents to giggles from other kids, i would pick up the phone and be unable to even say hello - pretty horrific stuff for an 8 year old.

    You already have all the advice on speech therapists, so I wont go there, but there are 2 things my parents did which helped:

    - Speak to your sons teachers and agree a subtle way to arrange that he doesnt have to speak much in class without other kids noticing. They dont have an appreciation for what you are going through without you explaining it to them, but you will find them receptive to helping

    - My dad got me to read a few pages of a book to him every night when I was in bed just before going to sleep. It helped me relax, speak slower, and work out how to work my way through certain difficult words and sounds. I remember being embarrassed for the first few days (and I think I put up a fair bit of resistance at the outset, as I just wanted to forget the problem), but as I got more comfortable with it and with my dad listening to me, I think it definately helped, and I recall starting to enjoy it.

    One thing I remember thinking is that no-one else, including my parents, knew what it was like. I kept thinking that my parents wanted to shout 'JUST TALK NORMALLY, FOR GODS SAKE!', even though I am sure that wasnt what they were thinking. It is really important that you never let your frustration show - even the smallest vibe - because your son will [pick up on it and go straight into his shell, and feel like he is letting you down.

    My stammer lasted about 5 years before disappearing. I occasionally stumble on a word, but people tell me they never notice. And I engage a great deal with execitives at my company, and give presentations to the board with no issues at all.

    Dont take him out of school - that would have been the worst thing my parents could have done. It basically tells him that he's a lost cause. He will still have friends who do not mind his stammer - and that is sometimes forgotten amid the teasing from the majority. Around 90% of people grow out of it, and those that dont will learn to deal with it and it not to have an impact on their personal and professional lives. I know a CEO who stammers badly!

    Every stammer is different, and will work itself out in a different way. but if there is one thing that is true, it is that it seems worse now than what it will when you and your son look back on it in a few years

    Good luck with it

  • Registered Users Posts: 366 ✭✭sadie9

    Yes the HSE Speech Therapy is free.
    They are dealing with children who stutter all the time. Childhood stuttering is very common. Much more common than adults, but the majority of children recover with therapy etc. Only a small percentage have a more persistent form of it.
    With therapy a lot of children resolve it by the age of 12. And then there is another age of around 18 that it frequently resolves as well according to what I have read about it.

    If you start him in speech therapy, and do all your homework in regard to how to treat the child at home (by heeding the advice for parents carefully on the websites etc) there is no reason why you should not get a very good outcome.
    Perfect fluency cannot be 100% guaranteed (that's not to say it won't happen) but you should be aiming for a happy independent child who's sure of himself regarding his speech, understands it's no-one's fault and is not ashamed of himself because of it.

    You just need to make sure you get an appointment as soon as they can manage (so you may need to apply a bit of pressure by ringing a few times etc.). Now depending on the area you live in, the waiting list may not be that long, and a speech therapist should ring you back once you've made an enquiry and always try to get the initial assessment done quickly. Though the process might vary in different counties.

    Most people who stutter live perfectly normal lives (we just feel really bad about ourselves while we do it in some cases!!).
    I've come into contact with 2 consultants in two hospitals recently who have significant stutters - one an A&E doc and one a children's hosp consultant. And both of them chatting away to patients all day, and they would be under considerable pressure with their speech and managing just fine.

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 34 Average_Joe

    Thanks to everyone for the help.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1 christina4

    I am a qualified SLT working in private practice. AS others have mentioned, early intervention is key and reading up on stammering will better help you understand your son's stammering experience. The HSE is a good solution for help, as it is open to the public and free. However waiting lists can be extremely long and frustrating for parents and children in need.

    If you choose the private route, you can claim back on your sessions and assessments if you are cover with VHI etc depending on what care plan you have.

    Feel free to contact me should you need any ore help or want to discuss private SLT as an option.

  • Registered Users Posts: 74 ✭✭Michael O Shea

    Hello Joe,
    There is positive help and support out there for you and your child, the previous posts give excellent information, childhood stammering is complex, early intervention and assessment is vital to assure you the parent, also to give the child the best resources and support regarding dealing with it.

    For you the parents, I would advise you to gain as much knowledge and support as possible, the world wide web has really good information and open up the awareness of stammering, visit local support groups, speaking to people who are challenged by stammering will also be of great value to you. Trying to isolate your child from main stream education within a structured comfort zone may not do your child any favours in dealing with the challenge of stammering. For you to talk to other parents who have a child who is challenged by stammering will be of great value as well.

    Try for furthur reference.

    Speak soon,