Help! My Child Is Being Teased For Her Speech Impediment
“People tease me because of the way I talk.” “The other kids at school don’t like my words.” Do these statements sound familiar in your home? The unfortunate fact is that children who have a speech impediment are often subjected to teasing from their peers. According to a study by Professor Gordon W. Blood, Ph.D., CCC-SLP:
children who stutter are 61% more likely to be targeted by a bully.
Teasing and bullying at school can be a frightening experience.
How To Help If Your Child Is Being Teased for Her Speech Impediment
Teasing can have a serious impact on anyone, but in particular, children with any type of speech impediment. And, as mentioned in Blood’s study, children with special needs are particularly at risk for being bullied because they often appear more withdrawn. This type of mocking behavior often results in lower self-confidence and exclusion from social groups. What can you do as a parent to help guide your child through these trying situations? Here are a few suggestions:
- Listen carefully to what your child is saying. Identify and authenticate what your child is feeling and praise your child for being honest about what is happening and coming forward. Try to increase the time that you give your child undivided attention.
- Build confidence. Undoubtedly, your child’s confidence is strained. Praise your child’s strengths that are unrelated to talking. For example, her athletic skills, organizational skills, kindness to siblings, etc.
- Consult with your child’s teacher. You may want to meet with the teacher before the beginning of the school year to clearly communicate your child’s speech impediment and come up with a strategy how to handle it in the classroom.
- Encourage your child to seek help from a teacher or speech pathologist at school. Speech pathologists can play a large role in helping your child deal with teasing and bullying, as they are trained to create an inclusive environment for students. The SLP may be willing to speak to your child’s class about speech disorders. She can also work with your child to develop effective predetermined responses that will allow him to be assertive at school.
You may have read or seen a news story about Danny Keefe. A six-year old water boy on a fifth grade football team in Bridgewater, MA, Danny suffered a brain hemorrhage shortly after he was born and as a result, has a speech impediment. His football team noticed that Danny was being picked on for both his speech disorder and his penchant for wearing a suit and tie to school. They formed an alliance to protect this first grader against teasing and bullying and created “Danny Appreciation Day,” where each of them wore suits and stood along side of Danny in a show of solidarity.
There is a great book about teasing and bullying that you can share with your child. Written by Helen Lester, Hooway for Wodney Wat tells the tale of Rodney, who is teased by his classmates because he cannot pronounce his name, but it is Rodney’s speech impediment that drives away the class bully.
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