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Stuttering Modification: Goals & Strategies

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Students who stutter can really struggle with self esteem and communication skills. This lesson helps you think about goals and strategies that will help these students modify their stutter..

Why Stuttering Matters

Paul is a fifth grade teacher, and this year, he has two students in his class who really struggle with a stutter, or halting, dysfluent speech. Usually, Paul can understand what these students are saying, but he has noticed that other children really struggle to understand them. More and more often, he has noticed his students with stutters avoid activities and tasks that involve oral communication. They feel self-conscious and awkward, and their self-esteem is suffering.

Sometimes, especially when they're anxious or tired, their stuttering will make it difficult to even get a whole sentence out. This really impedes their ability to make themselves heard and understood. Paul is starting to understand that stuttering can present a major obstacle to learning, and he endeavors to learn what he can do to help these students.

Goals

First, Paul understands that, as with any learning or behavior condition, it will be important to set reasonable goals for his students who stutter. He understands that the overall goal for most stuttering students is to be able to communicate effectively and regularly using relaxed speech, or a voice that is fluent, continuous, calm and appropriately expressive. However, his students also have more nuanced and specific goals that address their particular situations. Some goals that Paul names for his students include:

  • Learning to identify trigger situations, or situations that might lead to a stutter. These might include stress, fatigue or hunger.
  • Learning to consistently pronounce one- or two-syllable words in isolation without stuttering.
  • Learning to consistently pronounce polysyllabic words in isolation without stuttering.
  • Learning to read sentences or short passages aloud without stuttering.
  • Participating in group discussion, regardless of whether or not a stutter is present.
  • Consistently communicating independent thoughts and feelings without a stutter.
  • Participating in the social life of the classroom or school regardless of whether a stutter is present.
  • Performing oral presentations on topics of interest without stuttering.

Obviously, Paul knows that not all goals pertaining to stuttering will be reasonable for all students, so he is glad that now he has a repertoire to choose from. He also knows that, as students' speech improves, he can modify their goals.

Strategies

Of course, there is no sense in setting a goal for a student if you are not going to help them achieve it by using concrete strategies. Paul understands this, and he sets about exploring different strategies that speech and language pathologists and other teachers have used in the past to succeed in helping students who stutter. Some of the strategies Paul learns include:

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