Stuttering in the School Playground

Why you might see a change in your child’s stutter as school begins again

Oftentimes changes in routine can be a trigger for children who stutter, as stress is likely to bring about communication difficulties for everyone. According to Anthony J. Caruso et al in the 1994 study Adults Who Stutter “A study found that under stress, non-stutterers went
from 0% to 4% dysfluencies, for the simple task of saying colors. Stutterers went from 1% to 9%”
 – this makes a lot of sense, as when we’re stressed we often speak with far more energy and urgency.

While we often look back at our school years spent in the playground and imagine how carefree and fun it was, we also forget that socialising with so many different people can often be stressful. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it’s highly likely your kid might find the playground at least a minor stressor.

The school playground is also exciting. It’s fun, there’s a lot to do, and kids often want to talk to as many people as they can and do as many activities as they can before lunchtime is up – all this energy and urgency may often trigger an increase in stuttering as well.

While this isn’t any reason for major concern, the excitement and change in schedule after a long holiday period can mark a change in stuttering.  If this happens, try and ensure your child is continuing to practice the techniques they have learned during their speech therapy sessions, and remind yourself that an increase or decrease in your child’s stutter after a significant change in their schedule is to be expected. For some people it can go the other way, and their stutter can increase during the holiday period, and decrease during school time, as the strict schedule can be helpful to them.

Regardless of whether your child experiences an increase in their stuttering, an educated and supportive school can be a major helping factor. If your child goes to school and you would like the school to access more support and information, please let them know we are here to help, or point them in the direction of our ‘For Teachers’ page. Socialising with other kids who stutter can also be extremely helpful, and create a lasting support network – we often run social days so please contact us to find out when our next one is. Our email is support@start.org.nz