By Stephanie Coppen

Transitioning to middle school can be a daunting time for children who stutter and their parents. During the middle school years children begin to rely less on their parents and look to establish their independence. This can be challenging for mom, dad and child especially when the child stutters. There is not only the expected stress of the start of the school year issues because let’s be honest, middle school is an awkward time for most kids, so imagine adding stuttering to yours and your child’s concerns.

Perhaps in years past, you have been your child’s voice when it came to educating the educator about stuttering, but now they are asking you to step out of that role. Maybe your child has always done a presentation about stuttering (with your assistance) for their classmates about stuttering, but now they don’t want to do that anymore. As the parent you are probably thinking, “what do you mean you don’t want my help?”. So, what do you do?

In a panel discussion at the 2011 National Stuttering Association Annual Conference in Ft. Worth, these concerns were addressed by the experts; the kids and their parents who have made the transition to middle school.

One over-riding theme of the panel was to allow your middle-school student to “own” how they chose to share the fact they stutter, if they chose to share it at all. As the parent, the best thing you can do is listen to your child and support their choices. You may disagree and it’s ok to make suggestions, but at the end of the day your child is the person who stutters and they need to be comfortable with their choices. As parents, our fears and concerns most often won’t be the same as our children’s. When our kids hit bumps in the road, they move on from them far more quickly than we do. Just because they decide to handle things a certain way at the start of the school year doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind and approach things differently as the year progresses.

One of the middle-school students on the panel made the choice not to talk to their teachers or their classmates about their stuttering at the start of the school year, however within a couple of months had decided that being open about it made everything easier for the student, teacher(s) and their peers.

The lesson is there are not right or wrong answers. Your child is growing up and finding themselves. They need to find a way to approach the start of the school year in middle school in a way that best suits them. And remember, there is nothing that is done that can’t be undone.

NSA Transitioning to Middle School Workshop 2011 presented by:

Joan and Katie Duffield – allthreeduffs@hotmail.com
Pattie and Danny Wood – pattie@auburnwoods.org
Helene Haus – helenehaus@comcast.net
Julie North- julie@jne.com