As long as support is provided for children and young people who stammer, they can and do achieve their potential. Stammering need not hold them back!

About 1 in 20 pre-school children are likely to stammer and early intervention does offer the best chance of recovery so that by school age an estimated 1 in 80 will stammer, reducing in adulthood to 1 in 100. We know from parents and speech and language therapists that parents of school-age children may become very anxious and concerned when their child has been diagnosed with stammering in spite of the reassurance that the SLT is likely to have offered. Often the main reason for this concern is parents’ awareness that many school staff do not have training in support strategies for stammering and are not always confident in how to respond to the child’s needs in oral work.

Since the Bercow report of 2007, there has been more emphasis on speech, language and communication needs in schools and more training is available to staff but it is taking time to raise awareness. As stammering is a low incidence speech impairment, staff may not be aware of the situation until it is brought to their attention by the parents. Recent legislation on special educational needs and disability (SEND), that places parents and children at the centre of any discussion about support, can help to make a real impact and improve school responses to stammering. Both staff and parents can take advantage of the BSA online resources. Staff can also use our online training resources that demonstrate specific strategies for stammering within the context of a whole-school communication policy which benefits all pupils and enhances the High Quality Teaching that the special educational needs and disability code of practice (SENDCOP) requires.

Why support in education is so essential

We know that stammering can lead to significant difficulties at school when a pupil feels staff do not understand the speech problem – this often leads to underachievement and, in the worst cases, alienation from school and disciplinary issues. Parents report how even quite young children are becoming anxious about speaking situations in class and with friends so they became reluctant to speak and make social relationships. Teasing and bullying of children who stammer is regrettably common and this exacerbates the problems. When negative thoughts and patterns of behaviour continue into adolescence and young adulthood, social anxiety is likely to develop and opportunities for interaction diminish leading to isolation and mental health problems. Additionally, some parents report difficulties within the family when other siblings feel so much emotional energy is concentrated on the child who stammers.

The benefits of support in education

Support allows the pupil to take part in the oral activities which are the basis of all learning as adaptations can be planned and these encourage self-confidence in speech management. Support can continue throughout the school career and during employment, as long as it is requested, for stammering is regarded as a disability when it has continued for some time and affects normal activities. Strategies of support are simple and can be life-changing for the child or young person who stammers, allowing them to achieve the best outcomes for their aspirations and to go on to live their lives as they would wish!

BSA Resources for Education


Education Settings

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