Friday, October 14, 2011

Stuttering and children

The Stuttering Foundation of America is a wonderful organization that provides online support, research and refferals for the stuttering community and their loved ones. Below is more information about the organization and their mission taken from the Stuttering Foundation of America website,

"The history of the Foundation is the story of how one person with a significant stutter led a successful life and made a lasting difference in the lives of others with the same disability.
In 1947, Malcolm Fraser, a young man in Memphis, Tennessee, decided to do what he could to help others who stutter. He knew about this disability from personal, often painful experience. He met with one of the foremost authorities of the day, Dr. Charles Van Riper, to discuss founding a nonprofit charitable organization to help those who stutter.
The organization Fraser founded became today’s Stuttering Foundation of America. Its goal was to provide the best and most up-to-date information and help available for the prevention of stuttering in young children and the most effective treatment available for teenagers and adults.
More than 60 years later, the Stuttering Foundation continues to pursue these same goals, although the tools to accomplish them are more varied and widespread. As it did when Malcolm Fraser turned his dream into reality, the Foundation dedicates itself to the contemporary concerns of those who stutter."

The Stuttering Foundation of America has a myriad of free online resources available for those who stutter and their loved ones, teachers, employers etc. They also produce a number of books and other publications about stuttering. 
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of exchanging emails with their President, Jane Fraser. According to Fraser most children are first diagnosed with a stutter, "between the ages of 2 and 4." When should a parent consider seeking out speech therapy? She suggests seeking out diagnosis/therapy, "as early as possible even if it is only to get guidance on how to follow through on the 7 tips for talking with your child."

Below are the 7 tips for talking with your child courtesy of The Stuttering Foundation of America website,

"1. Speak with your child in an unhurried way, pausing frequently. Wait a few seconds after your child finishes speaking before you begin to speak. Your own slow, relaxed speech will be far more effective than any criticism or advice such as “slow down” or “try it again slowly.”

2. Reduce the number of questions you ask your child. Instead of asking questions, simply comment on what your child has said.

3. Use your facial expressions and other body language to convey to your child that you are listening to the content of her message and not to how she’s talking.

4. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child. This quiet, calm time can be a confidence-builder for younger children.

5. Help all members of the family learn to take turns talking and listening. Children, especially those who stutter, find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions.

6. Observe the way you interact with your child. Try to increase those times that give your child the message that you are listening to her and she has plenty of time to talk.

7. Above all, convey that you accept your child as he is. The most powerful force will be your support of him, whether he stutters or not."

The Stuttering Foundation of America also funds research to discover what causes stuttering. "This year Dr. Dennis Drayna and his team at the NIH found the first 3 genes [that show there is a link between genetics and stuttering]," she said.

Earlier this year the release of "The King's Speech," helped bring greater awareness to stuttering and the stuttering community. If you haven't seen the movie you need to go out and rent it! It is awesome! Fraser said, "We are thrilled that this film highlights the plight of those that stutter."

Fraser got to meet the cast. She explained that the actors were familiar with stuttering/speech issues. "They researched for their roles in the film by reading everything they could about King George VI and listening to his speeches over and over and over until they "got" it.

For more information on stuttering click here.

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