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The staff team 2

Speech and language therapists and parents have expressed concern about difficulties for a pupil who stammers when ordering food in the dining room.  It is quite a pressurised situation for that child who is aware that other hungry children are waiting, and that the meals supervisors are anxious to serve the children as efficiently as possible.  The child who stammers may be unable to speak as anxiety levels rise.

Ideally, everyone involved should be able to give the stammering child as much time he needs to ask for his food, but this may not always be possible. If every child is allowed to use these gestures, as in the video clip, and point to the food required then the stress of the speaking situation should be reduced.  It is always best to provide alternative means of communication in routine circumstances that are stressful, as nothing is achieved for the child who stammers by a regular repetition of a negative speech experience in an everyday situation, like the dining room.

Supervising staff should then encourage the child who stammers, and is using gestures, to move on to asking for food as confidence is built up. The knowledge that there is no immediate pressure to talk is actually likely to encourage the child who stammers to do so, as he will feel more relaxed.

A friendly and supportive attitude by the meals supervisors, the other children and supervising staff will also help to lower anxiety.

Summary

  • Always ensure that meals supervisors will accept gestures by the pupils when they are requesting food. Encourage these staff to develop their understanding of children's diverse needs. 
  • Ask supervising staff to encourage the child who stammers to ask for food and to join in conversations. This may require a "step by step" approach to build confidence.

Queueing in the dining room can be particularly stressful; alternative communication strategies should be permitted.