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:
- ASHA Leader Article on Timed Reading Fluency Assessments: Quick: Talk Fast & Don't Stutter
With luck, these resources (and other resources such as this one from the National Stuttering Association) 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!)