As a school-based SLP, I cannot qualify any student for services if it does not “affect academic performance.” Stuttering is no exception to that rule. How stuttering affects academics can vary across students. But there are a few common aspects I look for during the evaluation process.
Here are 4 ways that stuttering affects academics. This list is great to share with parents and teachers as well!
1. Class participation
This one to me is the most common and the most obvious. Here are a few questions to ask when thinking about class participation.
- Is the student raising their hand as much as the other students?
- Are the child’s answers as long and complex as their peers?
- Is the student actively participating in group times?
- Is the child being called on as much as others?
Students who stutter may withdraw in class or avoid speaking situations that cause anxiety. This becomes more common as students get older and become more self-aware.
Secondly, stuttering can sometimes affect a child’s confidence. And poor self-confidence can negatively affect educational performance. A past study showed that second to cognitive factors (like IQ), confidence was the next best predictor of academic performance.
Bullying can also be a significant problem among students who stutter, which can be a detriment to self-confidence. We can help our students avoid this through educating teachers and peers. I love this program for minimizing bullying by Stuttering Therapy Resources, for instance. It’s a comprehensive resource that helps SLPs collaborate with teachers, parents, and students to combat bullying.
3. Social Clubs
Social clubs and activities can additionally be difficult for students who stutter. In a 2017 study, research showed that children with stuttering have considerable difficulties in the interactions with students and teachers.
Additionally, it was observed that children with stuttering exhibited negative attitudes towards participating in academic activities or taking part in social activities. In addition to these, other children have a lack of social interaction with those who stutter.
4. Learning and Grades
That same 2017 study revealed that negative attitudes caused children with stuttering to fall behind in learning concepts and skills during their education. When students avoid speaking or refuse to participate in classroom activities, that in turn affects their grades and ability to learn important concepts.
These are some great reasons for SLPs to be aware of the student’s performance in the classroom. You could also think about creating goals around increasing confidence and class participation.
Finally, there are a few suggestions that I like to give teachers to help enhance fluency and the student’s overall communication:
- Provide a good fluency model.
- Improve the child’s self-esteem.
- Allow students to speak for themselves and be patient when they are speaking.
- Do not give simplistic advice while they are stuttering.
- Pay attention to what they are saying so they know they are understood.
- Be aware of the reactions of their classmates.
- Create a good communication environment – Make sure to create a positive and supportive communication environment for all children.
I tell you all this so that you can understand the impact of good stuttering therapy and the importance of helping kids cope with the social/emotional aspects of it. You can grab several resources to target these areas in my free resource library or in the Interactive Fluency Binder!