Language and communication speech impairments affect children, adolescents, and adults worldwide. These conditions not only disturb the way one speaks and communicates with others but also influence the social integration of a person due to stigma. People with stuttering experience bullying and difficulties in forming relationships from a very young age. Although professional medical treatment can have a varying degree of success, social contexts where a child interacts also play a role in facilitating recovery. Educational institutions, in particular, influence how welcomed and safe a stuttering student feels, which can, in turn, negatively or positively affect the success of therapy. Despite the importance of teachers and school counselors in addressing the issue, there is a lack of education and cooperation to provide the needed support for stuttering children. This paper will overview research articles that provide insight into the cognitive behavior language therapy, anxiety-inducing nature of stuttering, and methods to minimize stress in the educational environment, and apply the knowledge to the classroom.
Summary of Research
Summary of “A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Classroom Communication Resource Program to Change Peer Attitudes Towards Children Who Stutter”
The study on classroom communication resource programs by Mallick, Kathard, Borhan, Pillay, and Thabane examined the effects of classroom communication intervention on bullying and stigma associated with stuttering students. The researchers have noted that one of the most significant issues for stuttering children is not being accepted by their peers due to shaming and lack of awareness about language impairment. As a result, Mallick et al. (2018) conducted an experiment where different groups of students were either experiencing a teacher intervention or remained undisturbed to investigate whether training will reduce bullying. Per the first group of students, the teachers introduced “social story, participants acted out the role-play and teachers facilitated a discussion around communication and communication difficulties, teasing and bullying, acceptance, diversity and difference” (Mallick et al., 2018, p. 3). The second group, in contrast, received no information about language impairment.
As a follow-up, the researchers quizzed students from both groups on their attitudes towards stuttering six months after the experiment. The qualitative study results showed no significant difference between the opinions on stuttering among students who received no educational materials and pupils that were intervened (Mallick et al., 2018). Researchers concluded that normalization of language and communication impairments should occur earlier in the educational process, starting from pre-school or be more continuous and extensive.
Summary of “Helping Students Who Stutter: Interprofessional Collaboration Between Speech-Language Pathologists and School Counselors”
The article by Yates, Hudock, Astramovich, and Hill explored how the efforts of speech therapists and school counselors can be synergized for better results. Students with communication disorders like stuttering suffer from low self-esteem and common exclusion by classmates, anxiety, depression, and school failure (Yates et al., 2019). Speech counseling with a professional therapist is a mandatory aspect of the treatment of children with stuttering. Yates et al. (2019) explained what kind of role both professionals perform and what kind of methods they utilize to help a child feel welcomed in a socially oppressive environment. For instance, a school counselor can involve students in educational programs to lessen stigma, conduct group and individual therapy sessions, and intervene when academic progress is impacted by involving teachers. As Yates et al. (2019) noted, “while SLPs are generally not trained to address the myriad social needs related to stuttering, school counselors have expertise in facilitating the social/emotional development of students” (p. 2). As a result, their cooperation has the potential to address the communication difficulties that a student has and to facilitate their social integration.
Summary of “Cognitive Behavior Language Therapy for Speech Anxiety Among Stuttering School Adolescents”
The research on cognitive behavior language therapy (CBLT) by Nnamani, Akabogu, Otu, Ukoha, Uloh-Bethels, Omile, Obiezu, Dike, Ike, and Iyekekpolor investigated the correlation between speech anxiety and stuttering behavior among school students. The researchers linked the increased intervals of stuttering behavior with speaking in public (Nnamani et al., 2019). To prove the hypothesis, they conducted an experiment where they divided the control group into two parts, where one received intense CBLT, and the remaining one received none. For two weeks, trained psychologists conducted treatment of “related anxious feelings and somatic reactions to anxiety, simplified cognitive restructuring exercises, coping self-talk, exposure to feared stimuli and relapse prevention” (Nnamani et al., 2019, p. 3112). The follow-up examination of the control groups found that people who received treatment showed significantly fewer anxiety levels when speaking in public and, consequently, stuttered less (Nnamani et al., 2019). Therefore, it can be concluded that public speaking anxiety can be one of the main drivers for stuttering impairment to worsen, and CBLT should be implemented in therapy for quicker recovery.
Application to Classroom
Implementation of Teaching Interventions to Facilitate Bullying
As evident from the research on teaching interventions, facilitating bullying and social pressure that stuttering children experience in the social setting of school can be conducted by teachers. An educator should critically address the teasing and stigma that pupils with language and communication impairments face. In more concrete terms, teachers should initiate educational programs and sessions of 60 minutes. The sessions can involve the role-play, social story, and discussions that provide other students with insight into the “communication and communication difficulties, teasing and bullying” that stuttering peers deal with (Mallick et al., 2018, p. 3). This continuous and regular acceptance training will implement more acceptance of difference and diversity, normalizing stuttering. As a result, stuttering students will have to face less difficulties communicating with peers, forming connections, and will achieve more academically due to lessened pressure.
Implementation of Interprofessional Collaboration
By applying the knowledge gathered from the source, teachers can implement some of the described techniques of cooperation in everyday practice to facilitate stuttering children’s social integration. Professionals can point out and communicate their concerns about individual students to a school counselor and encourage additional therapy for the individuals in need. More than that, as Yates et al. (2019) noted, teachers can organize and participate in a language impairment awareness campaign encouraging stuttering students to educate others and lessen the stigma. In addition, according to Yates et al. (2019), “students can experience fewer academic achievements” (p. 7). As a result, the school counselor might implement interventions into the educational process to facilitate the child’s academic growth, and this process should be expected and assisted by teachers. Furthermore, as professionals who interact with students more regularly and on a more personal basis, teachers have more insight into a student’s progress. Thus, they can notify and express concerns about students’ difficulties in advance to simplify and shorten the process of the interventions, making the process smoother and less emotionally painful for people with stuttering.
Implementation of Cognitive Behavior Language Therapy
From this reading, the teachers can understand the role of speech anxiety in the severity of the issue and alter the teaching practice accordingly. An everyday learning process for pre-school children and school pupils involves a lot of instances when speaking in front of peers is required; for example, these can include routine answering of teacher’s questions. Knowing that people with stuttering are often unable to cope with speaking-related stress, teachers should avoid calling on language-impaired children to speak in front of class frequently (Nnamani et al., 2019). Furthermore, as direct facilitators of learning, the teachers can spot children with severe speech anxiety and communicate those instances to school counselors so that they can implement intense CBLT (Nnamani et al., 2019). Additionally, when asking stuttering students of an answer or presentation in front of the class, an educator should be aware of possible psychological difficulties and provide support.
In conclusion, it can be said that stuttering among children is a widespread issue that infiltrates their quality of life on multiple levels. As a communication impairment, it worsens children’s ability to voice their opinions accurately and, consequently, leads to bullying and social integration difficulties. Pressure from peers that fail to understand the condition makes it challenging for children with stuttering to reach academic achievements and be accepted by classmates. Thus, it is teachers’ duty to research and implement the knowledge on stuttering in everyday practice. They can do that by encouraging students to educate others, address bullying, cooperate with the school counselors, and be attentive towards various challenges that children might face with the readiness to help them.
Mallick, R., Kathard, H., Borhan, A., Pillay, M., & Thabane, L. (2018). A cluster randomised trial of a classroom communication resource program to change peer attitudes towards children who stutter among grade 7 students. Trials, 19(1), 1-8. Web.
Nnamani, A., Akabogu, J., Otu, M., Ukoha, E., Uloh-Bethels, A., & Omile, J. (2019). Cognitive behaviour language therapy for speech anxiety among stuttering school adolescents. Journal of International Medical Research, 47(7), 3109-3114. Web.
Yates, C., Hudock, D., Astramovich, R., & Hill, J. (2018). Helping students who stutter: Interprofessional collaboration between speech-language pathologists and school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 22(1), 1-7. Web.