Being a parent of a child who stutters – Part 1 by Veronica Lynch

I am a person who stutters and have done so for most of my life. As a lot of you reading this will understand living with a stutter presents many challenges, a lot of frustration, embarrassment, fear and shame to name just a few emotions. But they are nothing compared to when you find yourself as a parent of a child who stutters. Many parents who find themselves in this situation, whether they stutter or not, find themselves facing into the unknown. They may have little experience of stuttering and how to deal with it or they may have some experience within the family but have not given it much thought or they may, like me, be filled with dread that their child has to face the difficulties presented by stuttering. My daughter was late to speak and at two and a half had only half a dozen words, after looking at hearing as a possible cause she had grommets inserted and her vocabulary increased dramatically. However with increased speaking came stuttering which was a shock to me as neither of my older children had ever stuttered. As soon as she started stuttering I wanted to make sure she had every advantage to help her cope with it. My first port of call was the public health nurse who referred me on to a Speech and Language Therapist for assessment. And so began our adventure with stuttering. My daughter is now 18 and about to start a course in Creative Writing in Sept 2016, she is bright, happy, clever, and sociable, with lots of friends and lots of interests – but then again I would say that, I am a little bit biased. Rather than go into detail of all the Speech and Language Therapy and supports she received over her life I wanted to tell you what I, as parent of a child who stutters, learned about stuttering, about what helped my daughter and what I learned about what I could do – or not do – to be helpful.

THE PRESCHOOL YEARS During these years I spent quite a lot of time wanting to find a way to make sure my daughter didn’t stutter and I thought that if it was only caught early, with treatment, it would go away in time. I found out that this is only partially true. A Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) assessed her speech to ensure there was no physical reason why she stuttered and that her comprehension of language was appropriate for her age, she had no issues there. My experience is that direct Speech and Language Therapy is not given to preschool children for stuttering because it is possible that their stuttering will not continue and will resolve itself. Most of the work is done indirectly with the parents and these are the things I learned that would help my daughter, and me, to deal with her stutter.

FACTS ABOUT STUTTERING 1% of the population stutters. Stuttering is variable – it can vary by day, by week, by situation, with different people. Stuttering can be hereditary – there is strong likelihood there is someone else in the immediate family who stutter. Stuttering is not caused by a fright or trauma. Many children under seven who stutter do not have a big awareness of their own stuttering – it can often be the parents who are highly sensitive to their children’s stuttering. What I learned I could do to help my daughter who stutters

• Bring her to an SLT for assessment and speak to the SLT about my concerns and worries and seek advice. • Slow down the rate of my speech from rapid fire to relaxed tone – this helps reduce time pressure. • Maintain eye contact. • Introduce turn taking for talking in a busy household – the child doesn’t have to compete to speak as everyone gets their turn. •Having one to one talk time where she was uninterrupted and was free to talk about anything she liked regardless of how she spoke. This helps build confidence in her ability to speak. •Reduce questions such as ‘ How was nursery?’ which puts pressure on the child to answer. • Use statements instead such as ‘ You look like you had fun in nursery today’ – the child will find it easier to respond. • Ensure she knew I was interested in hearing what she had to say and not how she said it. • Tell other family members that she has plenty to say and to give her time and space to say it and not to finish her words/sentences or speak on her behalf. • Make sure she knew that whether she stuttered or not I wanted to hear all the interesting things she had to say. • Tell her I loved her no matter how long it took for her to say what she had to say • Introduce turn taking for talking in a busy household – the child doesn’t have to compete to speak as everyone gets their turn. •Having one to one talk time where she was uninterrupted and was free to talk about anything she liked regardless of how she spoke. This helps build confidence in her ability to speak. •Reduce questions such as ‘ How was nursery?’ which puts pressure on the child to answer. • Use statements instead such as ‘ You look like you had fun in nursery today’ – the child will find it easier to respond. • Ensure she knew I was interested in hearing what she had to say and not how she said it. • Tell other family members that she has plenty to say and to give her time and space to say it and not to finish her words/sentences or speak on her behalf. • Make sure she knew that whether she stuttered or not I wanted to hear all the interesting things she had to say. • Tell her I loved her no matter how long it took for her to say what she had to say.

THE PRIMARY SCHOOL YEARS I worried about my daughter starting Primary School, I worried about her being bullied or laughed at, I worried about her not fitting in, I worried about people thinking she was stupid, I worried. But then again, I am a parent; it is my job to worry. I went to an SLT privately to sort out her stutter before she started school and she used the Lidcombe approach which worked well and reduced my daughter’s stuttering considerably. So I was full of hope when she started school that her stutter was minimal and would cause her little concern. However, with the rough and tumble of life and even though we still maintained the Lidcombe practices regularly her stutter returned in its variable unpredictable form. Speech and Language Therapy can and does help but there is no guarantee it will cure. All the while I worried my daughter was enjoying school, making friends and getting on with her life. Looking back I realise now that her stammer was much more of a problem for me than for her. My daughter continued with Speech and Language Therapy (with a different approach) but the biggest thing that changed for me in the early Primary School years was my acceptance that it was likely she was going to stutter into adulthood and rather than trying to make it go away I needed to find ways and help her find ways to live with stammering and recognise that it is just one part of her life and not the centre of it. Through working with her SLT (using a more acceptance based approach) here were the things I found most helpful; • I realised I could do a lot help her navigate her way through life with a stutter. • Talking to her about her stuttering, acknowledge that it is a struggle but not to let it define her. Listening to her worries and concerns about her speech and letting her know she did not have to deal with it on her own, she had lots of support from family and friends. • Letting her know she is not alone, letting her meet other children and adults who stutter, it reduces the sense of isolation. Helping her to look up successful people who stutter. Her being involve with Irish Stammering Association activities helped her to meet other young people who stammer and share experiences. • Talking to her teacher about stuttering, giving him a fact sheet, explaining what helps and what does not help the child who stutters. • Her SLT going into class to talk about differences, what stuttering is and how the kids can help their class mate who stutters.

• Encouraging social interaction. Encourage joining activities that the child is interested in. • Continuing with turn taking and talk time. Encouraging talking in different situations. • As she got older encouraging her to find her own solutions to difficult situations such as agreeing a signal with her teacher so he would know when my daughter wanted to be asked a question in class. • Her working with her SLT to help her recognise that her stammer does have to define her and to problem solve around particular situations.

In Part 2: Find out more about the D.A.R.E. scheme and Bevin’s Secondary School Years

February Walk & Talk

Location: Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

Meeting Point: 12 pm, February 24th, outside the main entrance to Dun Laoghaire DART station.

Length of Walk: A leisurely 2 hours.

What is the Walk and Talk? 

This will be a social gathering and will provide an opportunity for those who stammer, their family and friends, or those with an interest in stammering to walk and talk as they make their way around Dun Laoghaire and Glasthule. We will begin in Dun Laoghaire harbour and walk along the East pier which offers great views of Dublin Bay, then make our way along Scotsman’s Bay and on to the famous Forty Foot bathing area; taking a dip is optional! We will then visit the James Joyce museum which is housed in a Martello tower. Afterwards, we will pick up the historic Metals route, which was used to bring stone from Dalkey Quarry to Dun Laoghaire to construct the harbour, and make our way back into Dun Laoghaire. We will visit a local café after the walk for refreshments. The walk is open to all ages, although children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult.

How do I take part?

Please express your interest in this event before the February 22nd 2019 by contacting mail@stammeringireland.ie

What should I bring?

Please ensure to bring comfortable walking shoes, raingear and fluids.

How do I get there?

By Train:

  • Travel by DART from Dublin to Dún Laoghaire. The journey offers spectacular views of Dublin Bay. The DART runs every 5 minutes during rush hour periods and every 20 mins during the day.

By bus

  • Dún Laoghaire is serviced by Dublin Bus. The terminus is located at the DART station. Buses – 7, 7a, 8, 45a, 46a, 59, 75, 111

By Car

  • Dublin is surrounded by the M50 motorway all national roads heading to Dublin are connected to the M50. Dún Laoghaire is located about 7 Kilometres inside the southern side of the motorway.
  • From the city centre there take the N11 via Stillorgan or via Blackrock on the R118 to head for Dun Laoghaire. Both routes are well sign posted.

Please contact mail@stammeringireland.ie for further details.

CAO / DARE applications 2019

Are you planning to apply to the CAO? Do you stammer? Then you may be eligible for DARE.

What’s DARE?

24 colleges, universities and Institutes of Technologies (Higher Education Institutions – HEIs) around Ireland take part in the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) scheme. DARE is for students, under the age of 23, who experience a negative impact on their school education as a result of a disability or specific learning difficulty. Speech and language communication disorder is one of the conditions considered as part of the scheme, which could include having a stammer. 

If you’re an eligible applicant, you may be offered a place on your preferred CAO course, even if you don’t have enough Leaving Certificate points. All of the participating HEIs have a reserved number of DARE places, and the reduction in Leaving Certificate points can vary year-on-year. As usual, you must meet the HEI’s minimum entry requirements and any specific programme requirements. Details of places available and requirements can be found on www.accesscollege.ie.

As a DARE student, you’re encouraged to register with student support services. Even if you don’t qualify for DARE, you might still be able to access a variety of academic, personal and social supports in your HEI.

Am I eligible and how do I apply?

To be eligible for DARE, you must apply for the scheme via the CAO, providing evidence of 1) being a person who stammers and 2) the educational impact this has had.

1) In order to provide evidence of being a person who stammers, you must submit an Evidence of Disability Form (available on www.accesscollege.ie or www.cao.ie) or an existing report completed and signed by a Speech and Language Therapist. 

2) In order to provide evidence of the educational impact this has had, you must submit an Educational Impact Statement (available on www.accesscollege.ie or www.cao.ie). This must be completed with your school, signed and stamped by your school principal or deputy principal, and signed by you and your parent/guardian. It should outline how you meet any two of the DARE Educational Impact criteria: 1. Have you received intervention or supports in secondary school as a result of having a stammer? 2. Has having a stammer impacted on your attendance or regularly disrupted your school day? 3. Has it affected your school experience and wellbeing? 4. Has it impacted on your learning or exam results? 5. Has it caused any other educational impact?

It can take a while to gather and finalise your documentation so you’re encouraged to start as soon as possible.

Applicants who are eligible for both the HEAR and DARE schemes are prioritised. HEAR is for students from a background of socio-economic disadvantage and, like DARE, offers HEI places on reduced Leaving Certificate points. You should apply to both DARE and HEAR if they are relevant to you.

If you have more than one disability, all of your disabilities can be assessed for eligibility under DARE as long as you provide evidence of them and the educational impact they have had.

Key dates:

  • 19 January: DARE and HEAR Application Information Day events around Ireland – details on www.accesscollege.ie.
  • 1 February: deadline to apply to the CAO.
  • 1 March: deadline to apply for DARE and complete the Supplementary Information Form.
  • 1 April: deadline to return the Educational Impact Statement and Evidence of Disability documentation to the CAO.
  • June: you will be notified of the outcome of your DARE application.
  • August: when Leaving Certificate results are released, eligible DARE applicants compete for reduced points places – course offers are made and accepted through the CAO.

For more information, including the DARE Handbook 2019, see www.accesscollege.ie and www.cao.ie. You can also contact the DARE advisors in the participating HEIs.

Christmas Social – Thursday 6th December

Call in for a Christmas drink with the Irish stammering community. Catch up with people you’ve met at the Dublin support group or at an ISA event and maybe make some new friends! If you haven’t attended anything in the past, come along to learn about the ISA and meet other people who stammer in an informal environment. You can hear first hand about the recent ISA events such as the Walk and Talks. You’ll get a chance to meet other people who stammer in an informal environment.

The Christmas social closes off 2018 for the ISA and looks forward to 2019. Help us mark the season and join us for the final ISA social event of the year.

Free finger food from 8 p.m. Thursday 6th December in The Church, Junction of Mary St and Jervis St, Dublin 1

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Dublin conference exploring cultural and clinical practice in dysfluency

Metaphoric Stammers and Embodied Speakers: Expanding the Borders of Dysfluency Studies (Humanities Institute, University College Dublin, 12 October, 2018)

Keynote speaker: Chris Eagle, Emory University, Centre for the Study of Human Health (Dysfluencies: On Speech Disorders in Modern Literature, 2014; Talking Normal: Literature, Speech Disorders, and Disability, ed. 2013)

The conference will explore the embodied experience and cultural construction of stammering from the collaborative perspectives of literary/cultural analysis, speech therapy and neurological research. The aim of the conference is to develop an interface between literary, cultural and clinical practice in the area of speech ‘disorders’, generating new forms of communication and exchange across these fields.

Despite the centrality of literary/cultural studies to the emergence of Dysfluency Studies (Marc Shell, Stutter 2005; Chris Eagle Dysfluencies 2014), the 2017 Oxford Dysfluency Conference had no humanities-based papers. This conference addresses this imbalance, bringing cultural analysis into genuine exchange with scientific and therapeutic practice, and necessarily negotiating the tension between a medically-inflected model of ‘recovery’ and an emergent challenge to cultural constructions of ‘normal’ speech. Dysfluency is explored less as a ‘disorder’ to be treated, than a form of communication that highlights the intricate relationship between speaking and being heard, vocal agency and cultural reception.

Literary culture has provided a rich and complex store of information about how stammering has been represented and interpreted at different historical junctures, within diverse cultural contexts and in relation to the variables of gender, class and ethnicity. The stammer has also been harnessed as a metaphor for how literary language works, how it operates at the limits of its expressive resources, occupying a territory that circles the paradoxical power of the ineffable. Recent work in the humanities, however, has signalled the need to balance such metaphorical readings with a sense of the corporeal experience of dysfluency, what Jay Dolmage has called ‘the embodied struggle for expression’ (Disability Rhetoric 2014). This renewed focus on embodiment invites diverse, interdisciplinary approaches that serve to accentuate the embodied experience of stammering in its neurological, therapeutic and cultural forms.

For further information, please visit the conference website or email dysfluencyconference@ucd.ie.

Organiser: Dr Maria Stuart, School of English, Drama, Film and Creative Writing, UCD.

ISAYiT! featured in Irish Times

ISAYiT! – Irish Stammering Association’s summer camp – was featured in the Irish Times recently.

The article features interviews with Charlie Hughes from Gaiety School of Acting, Dr Jonathon Linklater of ISA and Áine and Niamh who were taking part in ISAYiT! this summer.

You can read the article by clicking here.

If you would like more information about ISAYiT! please contact us.

National Stammering Awareness Day 2018

The 12th National Stammering Awareness Day will take place on Saturday October 20th in the Hilton Kilmainham Hotel, Dublin 8 from 10 a.m. This year’s theme is ‘Speak your mind’. The event starts at 10 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m.

As well as having our regular presentations from Irish Stammering Association and Irish McGuire Programme we’ll have a range of speakers to encourage, inspire and get you thinking.

The full schedule for National Stammering Awareness Day can be found below. Highlights include speakers to give you advice and support on employment in relation to stuttering, and also to demystify the oral exam process for students. We’ll also be linking up with international speakers via Skype.

ISA Parents’ Support Network will take place at 1.00 p.m. where family members can share experiences and chat informally.

ISAYiT! drama group for young people (aged 7-17) will run from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is facilitated by Charlie Hughes from the Gaiety School of Acting. You can read an Irish Times feature about ISAYiT! by clicking here

National Stammering Awareness Day is free to attend and all are welcome.

Schedule:

10 a.m. Welcome – Dr Jonathon Linklater & David Heney
10:05 a.m. Icebreaker
10:10 a.m. Iain Wilkie – British Stammering Association
10:40 a.m. Aoife Ní Laoire – Oral Examinations for second level students

11:00 a.m. Tea & coffee break – kindly sponsored by Irish McGuire Programme and ISA

11 a.m. – 4 p.m. ISAYiT! drama workshop facilitated by Charlie Hughes (Gaiety School of Acting)

11:30 a.m. Sharon Gavillet (Irish McGuire Programme)
12 p.m. Dr Fiona Ryan – Speech and Language Therapist
12:30 p.m. David Heney (Chairman, Irish Stammering Association)

13:00 p.m. Lunch / Parents’ Support Network meeting facilitated by parents and SLTs

2 p.m. Nora Trench Bowles
2.30 p.m. Adaku Ezeudo
2.45 p.m. James McCormack
3.15 p.m. Link up with Scottish Stammering Network
3:35 p.m. Siobhán Costello
3:50 p.m. Meet ISAYiT!
4:00 p.m. Ollie Gleeson
4:15 p.m. Jack Widger
4:30 p.m. Robert O’Brien
5 p.m. Closing comments – Dr Jonathon Linklater & David Heney
Wine reception

Speaker biographies can be found at www.nsad.ie

Parking and public transport

Hilton Kilmainham Hotel has a preferential all day parking rate of €7. This operates on a first come fist service; you must pay for this parking at reception to avail of the special rate. Alternative parking can be found at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Public transport serves Hilton Kilmainham with LUAS stops at Heuston Station and Suir Road, and several Dublin Bus routes. The Transport for Ireland website gives real time information to assist your travel.

July Walk & Talk – July 29th

ISA is hosting its July Walk and Talk on Sunday 29th July along the Cliff Head, Bray in Co. Wicklow. We’d be delighted if you would join us for a stroll and a chat.

Location: Cliff Head Bray
Meeting Point: 12.00pm, Sunday July 29th at Bray Bandstand, Bray Seafront, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Getting there by car: take the N/M11 to Bray
Getting there by public transport from the Dublin area: Buy a return Dart ticket from Dublin City centre to Greystones but alight at Bray station.
Length of Walk: 7 kilometers Approx. 2.5 hours.

What is the Walk and Talk? This will be a social gathering and will provide an opportunity for those who stammer, their family and friends, or those with an interest in stammering to Walk and Talk as they walk along this stunning coastal path which is one the highlights of walking in Wicklow. As the group will walk for approx 2½ hours, it is not suitable for children under the age of 10. Children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult.

How do I take part? Please express your interest in this event before the 26th July 2018 by contacting mail@stammeringireland.ie

What should I bring? Please ensure to bring: Walking boots, raingear, snack and fluids. Please contact mail@stammeringireland.ie for further details.

May Walk and Talk

ISA is hosting its May Walk and Talk on Sunday 27th May along the Grand Canal in Co. Kildare. We’d be delighted if you would join us for a stroll and a chat.

Location: Grand Canal Way, Hazelhatch to Sallins, Co. Kildare
Meeting Point: 12.45pm, Sunday May 27th at Hazelhatch Train Station, Co. Kildare Getting there by car: take the N4 and then the R148 to Hazelhatch
Getting there by public transport from the Dublin area: Buy a return ticket from Dublin Heuston to Sallins, Co. Kildare. Catch the 12:15pm train from Dublin Heuston to Sallins and hop off at the Hazelhatch stop. We’ll get you back in time to catch the 3:48pm train from Sallins to Dublin Heuston
Length of Walk: Approx. 2 hours.

What is the Walk and Talk? This will be a social gathering and will provide an opportunity for those who stammer, their family and friends, or those with an interest in stammering to Walk and Talk as they walk along one of the most picturesque sections of the famous Grand Canal. As the group will walk for approx 2 hours, it is not suitable for children under the age of 10. Children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult.

How do I take part? Please express your interest in this event before the May 24th 2018 by contacting mail@stammeringireland.ie

What should I bring? Please ensure to bring: Walking boots, raingear, snack and fluids. Please contact mail@stammeringireland.ie for further details.

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Waterford Open Day and AGM

Irish Stammering Association is hosting an Open Day on Saturday 12th May 2018 in Treacys Hotel, Merchants Quay, Waterford. ISA’s Annual General Meeting will also take place on the day.

We will have a range of talks including:
• Chairman’s Address from ISA Chair David Heney
• Waterford support group members talk about the benefits of joining a group
• Michael O’Shea – person who stutters
• Fiona Ryan – speech and language therapist
• Nora Trench Bowles – person who stutters
• Dr Jonathon Linklater – speech and language therapist who stutters
• The event starts at 12.30 p.m. with tea, coffee and scones.
• The day is free to attend and will finish around 3 p.m.

For more details please contact mail@stammeringireland.ie

Travel details are below the poster.

ISAAGM2018

Travel information:

Pay and Display parking is available across the street as well as Treacys Hotel’s own car park 2 minutes walk away. Details can be found here.

Coach and Rail services to Waterford can be found on Bus Eireann and Irish Rail. www.citylink.ie and www.gobus.ie may also provide services depending on your departure location.