The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 18, 2013

Helping students face challenges that often come with stuttering

FAIRMONT — Within the classroom environment, students are often asked to speak in front of their classmates or read passages from their textbooks aloud.

But for a child who deals with stuttering, those tasks may not be so simple.

According to Stacey Fridley, a speech therapist at Blackshere Elementary School in Fairmont, stuttering is a neurological impairment.

“The most recent theory regarding stuttering sites it as a neurological timing disorder where, more or less, there’s a glitch in all of the things we have to coordinate when we speak,” she said.

Unfortunately, stuttering is often thought to be an anxiety or psychological disorder, Fridley added. But it isn’t.

“There are a lot of misconceptions in society about it. There’s a lot of stigmatizing associated with stuttering,” Fridley said. “It’s not at all an anxiety disorder, but it becomes exacerbated from the anxiety that results from its occurrence.”

Nancy Laughlin, a speech therapist at Watson Elementary School, also in Fairmont, said the anxiety that may accompany stuttering creates challenges at school.

“Students become very self-conscious,” Laughlin said. “It can be very debilitating because they don’t want to talk in class, they don’t want to read out loud and they don’t want to answer questions. It also impacts their socialization in the school environment.”

Fridley said only about 1 percent of the population is diagnosed with moderate to severe stuttering, though there may be other cases that are undiagnosed.

Young children may deal with developmental stuttering for a short period of time, Fridley added, but if it persists, parents should consider seeking help.

“It usually appears in children between 2 and 7 years old,” Fridley said. “If it’s true developmental stuttering, it usually lasts less than one year.”

If a child stutters for longer than a year or exhibits some significant symptoms, Fridley said the stuttering may become moderate or severe.

“The things we see happen in their speech are repetition, prolongation of vowel sounds, continuous sounds or a block — where the sound the individual is trying to produce doesn’t come out,” Fridley said.

Luckily, some resources are available that can help.

In addition to the professional help of a speech therapist, there are also practices that parents and families of children who stutter can put into place to try to alleviate the issue.

“Parents can slow down the pace of life in general, slow down their own speech and make sure they don’t interrupt,” Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, said.

Other tips that Fraser recommended include reducing the number of questions you ask your child, setting aside time each day to give your child undivided attention and making sure all family members take turns talking and listening.

Informational resources are available from the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation. Parents can check with their local library for these resources.

“There are very few places people can find information on stuttering, and most of our information is free,” Fraser said. “There are 8,500 libraries across the country that have one of our books or DVDs because we want the material to be available to people.”

Fridley said sometimes the best things for teachers and parents of children who stutter to do are to have patience and offer support.

“We want to foster a positive attitude,” Fridley said. “We want to let them know that what they have to say is important. Who cares if it takes them one more second to say a word?”

— Kaylyn Christopher is a reporter for the Fairmont Times-West Virginian.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • pittsburgh rally 5,000 rally in Pittsburgh against EPA Clean Power Plan

    The echo of people chanting, “Hey, hey, EPA, don’t take our jobs away” could be heard in downtown Pittsburgh Thursday. The voices came from about 5,000 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members and their families, along with other unions such as the Boilermakers and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International (IBEW), marching through the streets.

     

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Alpha plans to idle coal workers

    Approximately 1,100 employees at 11 Alpha Resources-affiliated surface mines, preparation plants and other support operations in southern West Virginia got notice late Thursday afternoon that their jobs could be in jeopardy.

     

    August 1, 2014

  • New rules to fight black lung disease kick in today

    Joe Massie has spent the last 22 years of his life fighting a disease that takes his breath away, a disease he contracted deep underground in the coal mines over a period of 30 years.  Black lung may take away his breath; it has not stilled his voice.

    August 1, 2014

  • target red Zero tolerance Target Red campaign hopes to lessen intersection crashes

    It happens every day. A driver hurries on his or her way to work, school or maybe nowhere in particular. Just ahead, a green light turns yellow. With a little more gas, the vehicle just might be able to clear the intersection before that light turns red. Or maybe not. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • derby dames Beckley area Derby Dames to host WFTDA team Aug. 9

    The Beckley Area Derby Dames will face off against a WFTDA-certified team, the Harrisonburg, Va., Rocktown Rollers, Aug. 9 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • phil roop Artisans show off skills at String Band Festival

    The Appalachian String Band Festival celebrates the music of the mountains each year.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Calendar — Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

    August 1, 2014

  • VA clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    August 1, 2014

  • Beckley festival seeking vendors

    Taste of Appalachia is seeking restaurants, vendors, organizations and churches to participate in the Aug. 23 event. 

    August 1, 2014

  • 080114 FRI TWV multitalented teen.jpg Only 13, Shady Spring and TWV teen has big resume

    Well-rounded is an understatement for 13-year-old Rachel McNeel. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo