Northwest News

Help for parents, teachers

New DVD shows how to eliminate stigma of stuttering

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Parents and teachers have a new tool to help stuttering children.

The Stuttering Foundation of America has produced and made available to public libraries a 20-minute DVD, Stuttering: Straight Talk for Teachers.

Three local library districts in central Ohio -- Pickerington, Upper Arlington and Westerville -- have acquired the material, according to the foundation.

The DVD also is available at stutteringhelp.org.

The film explains how stuttering affects children of all ages and features children discussing their experiences.

The film also addresses the teachers' perspectives of whether or not to call on a student with a speech impediment, how to handle teasing or bullying from other students associated with a child who stutters and how to assist students who stutter while reading aloud.

Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation of America, said the DVD was created based on questions the foundation receives from parents and teachers, especially at the start of a new school year.

"We think it addressed the kinds of questions we're most often asked and told by children who stutter and experts in the field," said Fraser, whose father founded the Memphis-based organization in 1947.

Donations to the foundation and endowment funded the production of the DVD, as well as other services the foundation provides.

Fraser said classroom presentations explaining the condition to other students and sharing the fact that many famous people, such as actor James Earl Jones, stutter go a long way toward fostering understanding and acceptance among adolescents. The foundation offers a downloadable poster of famous stutterers on its website.

"Each case is different, but our goal is to help parents and teachers find what works best," Fraser said.

Bullying and teasing sometimes cause more anxiety than the speech disorder itself, said Bill Murphy, a speech and language pathologist at Purdue University, in a press release about the DVD.

"Even the children who receive therapy to help them speak more fluently continue to have negative feelings as they grow older," Murphy said. "Their ability to communicate is still hindered by the shame and embarrassment they feel about stuttering, which is often brought on by teasing."

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