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Timed Oral Reading Tests for Children Who Stutter?

I recently read about a child who stutters who was placed in an oral reading remediation in which the test was timing him on reading every day and marking how far he got in a passage during a minute. I thought I’d offer some thoughts…

It's really not ideal for a child who stutters to be forced to read under timed conditions like this, especially when he is being judged on his fluency. This puts undue pressure on the child and send the message that his speech (or reading) must be fluent in order for him to be successful. Such work can undo much of the good work you might do within the therapy setting that would help the child communicate with greater comfort and confidence.

Unfortunately, we're faced with these timed reading tasks that teachers must report, and because teachers often don't have sufficient knowledge and expertise about stuttering, they may think that they're being helpful in giving the child the opportunity to practice in such a manner. The opposite is the case, sadly.

Fortunately, however, ASHA has provided us with some useful resources that we can use to educate people (including teachers) about timed reading tasks. For reference: 

https://www.asha.org/.../Oral-Reading-Fluency-Handout.pdf 

https://www.asha.org/.../Chil.../Reading-Fluency-Parents.pdf 

https://leader.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=1885600

With luck, these resources (and other resources such as this one from the National Stuttering Association - https://www.westutter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Oral-Reading-Fluency-2015.pdf) can help to reduce these unhelpful demands and create a more accepting environment for the child who stutters.

(NOTE: All of the materials mentioned above were developed in part by STR’s own Nina Reeves. Thanks Nina!)

J Scott Yaruss

Written by : J Scott Yaruss

J. Scott Yaruss, PhD, is a professor of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University. He has published more than 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts, more than 115 other papers on stuttering, and several clinical resources, including the Overall Assessment of the Speaker's Experience of Stuttering (OASES), Early Childhood Stuttering: A Practical Guide, School-Age Stuttering Therapy: A Practical Guide, the Minimizing Bullying program, and more (all published by Stuttering Therapy Resources, Inc.).