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WIBU - DD14, Stuttering and Orals

(27 Posts)
TheGhostOfBarryFairbrother Mon 03-Feb-14 19:22:35

First post on here so please be gentle with me.

My DD is 14 and has a very severe stutter. She has had speech therapy in the past with little success and is going to be evaluated at a specialist centre in London during the easter holidays in the hope that they can help.

Over the last few years her self-confidence has become non-existant and it breaks my heart. She no longer speaks unless entirely necessary and even then, she finds it impossible to make eye contact. Her stutter is very bad and it takes her a long long time to say anything, including head jerking and eye blinking to try to get it out.

This evening she has come home from school in tears after discovering that she has to do an English oral next week - just five minutes in front of the class but for her this is torture. I asked my DB who also stutters and he said it would have been terrifying for him at that age.

My DH feels that it would be good for her to at least have to do the oral alone in front of the teacher, but I feel that it would break her. She has become almost mute and is very isolated, and I feel that we need to work on her confidence before pushing her in at the deep end. He says that we can't protect her forever and that she will need to learn to stand on her own two feet.

WIBU to ask her teacher to excuse her from the oral, at least until we have seen the specialists? Or am I just making it worse in the long run?

It breaks my heart to see her like this.

CrohnicallyFarting Mon 03-Feb-14 19:29:25

I personally think she should be excused. What would putting her through it achieve? How will it teach her to stand on her own two feet? And while I understand that you can't protect her forever, as an adult we can choose to avoid situations such as public speaking which makes us uncomfortable, as a child she doesn't have that luxury.

Even if you ask for her to be excused and the teacher disagrees, at least your DD will know you tried to stand up for her and doesn't feel deserted by you.

Amaxapax Mon 03-Feb-14 19:37:08

I assume she is in Y10? The thing is, even though speaking and listening won't count for her GCSEs, exam boards still want a record of the fact that the three tasks have been done. I'm an English teacher and, in this situation, I would do one of two things. I'd either ask her to have a go for me only during a lunch or break time, or I'd simply tick the box to say she'd done it. If they exam boards still counted the speaking and listening mark towards the overall grade, I obviously wouldn't do that. But as it is, there's simply no sense in putting her through such a traumatic experience given her circumstances.

Give her teacher a call and see what the options are. Try to approach the conversation in a way that suggests that you want to work with her to identify the best solution, rather than demanding that your daughter be excused.

wordsmithsforever Mon 03-Feb-14 19:38:08

What Crohnically said: "as an adult we can choose to avoid situations such as public speaking which makes us uncomfortable, as a child she doesn't have that luxury."

I agree with this entirely! Plus 15 is such a tough age - I think it's completely reasonable to adjust the demands of school to take into consideration her particular needs.

On the stuttering front, a friend of mine has had very good success with the Lidcombe Programme. Not sure if it's available in the UK but she accessed it via this website at - she was miles away so did it via telehealth.

namechangesforthehardstuff Mon 03-Feb-14 19:39:15

You need to find out if it's a compulsory assessment like the old style english speaking and listening things. I have fuck all idea what's in the GCSEs now the Tories have shat all over them

If it's not a part of a GCSE this is a no-brainer surely? Not sure exactly what your dh thinks public humiliation is preparing her for? Is he hoping she'll go on to star in reality TV programmes?

namechangesforthehardstuff Mon 03-Feb-14 19:41:04

X posted with someone who does know. Oh good, now I look like I can't read. grin

JennyCalendar Mon 03-Feb-14 19:44:19

I'd have a chat with the teacher. Do you know what syllabus she is doing? If it is IGCSE then the speaking and listening would count towards her final grade.

Talk through different possibilities. If she were one of my students, I'd want to support her in achieving the best she can do. This can include thinking outside the box. For example, could you record DD doing the presentation at home and submitting that?

TheGhostOfBarryFairbrother Mon 03-Feb-14 20:09:56

Thank you all so much.

I think that I will see if I can have a chat with her teacher tomorrow or later in the week. I'm sure that she'll be understanding and try to find a way that causes the lease worry for DD.

In the last year or so, DD has just disappeared into her shell. She has no close friends and spends all her time reading alone. It breaks my heart to see her give up on trying to speak - even to me or her siblings. We used to chat all the time, and now she really only speaks when absolutely necessary. She'll try to talk to me and just get so stuck that she gives up and it's like all her energy drains out of her. I can't tell you how hard it is to see that as a mother and to feel as though you've failed her.

Reincarnatedpig Mon 03-Feb-14 20:10:33

One of my children has a stutter. We approached the school in advance and the teachers wrote to the exam boards and asked for extra time if necessary which was granted. She was also not penalized for hesitancy (blocking) etc.

In your circumstances I would withdraw her from the exam. Are you going to the Michael Palin centre? They are fantastic and very supportive in writing to schools etc.

TheGhostOfBarryFairbrother Mon 03-Feb-14 20:15:18

Reincarnated - we are heading to the MPC for an assessment and hopefully therapy. Have you seen them? What should we expect? DD is very, very nervous and dubious about the whole thing.

I met with the school in Yr 7 and they were great with her and have been receptive and kind ever since. It's hard as she is a straight A* student so tends to just slip under the radar. I feel that she is very isolated right now, but as her mum, I also know that it's impossible for me to find friends for her at 14. I just feel powerless and so sad to see her like this.

Reincarnatedpig Mon 03-Feb-14 20:29:02

She shouldn't be worried, everyone there is highly trained and extremely kind and supportive.

Dd went from age 5 and last visited just before her GCSEs. She had one to one therapy for some years, which also included teaching us how to communicate with her. There is quite a lot about their methods on the internet. There was also a tv programme about the centre a couple of years ago.

She was also in a couple of group sessions as a teenager which may be what your DD will do. As far as I can recall they did various exercises including talking about their stutters and how it affected them and learnt strategies to help. They did stuff like go and ask for things in shops or directions in the street - of course your DD may not be in a group like that.

My dd will have a stutter for life, of course she would prefer not to have it but she accepts it and works on strategies to cope and she can control it a lot of the time. She has done oral exams, presentations etc and can talk to random strangers. I don't think she would have been able to do any of that without the MPC. Put your faith in them, it is not a cure and you all have to put work in but their methods really do work.

Toomuch2young Mon 03-Feb-14 20:37:41

I am sorry your daughter is facing this.
If at all possible try and watch an episode of educating Yorkshire, it features a year 11 with a severe stutter and the trials he and his English teacher face getting him to speak.
The thing that made the most difference was him listening to music in headphones and speaking while listening to that.
It was truly remarkable.
All the best.

natwebb79 Mon 03-Feb-14 20:43:16

Oh bless her sad Have you heard of the Maguire Programme? My friend teaches on it and has a fantastic record for helping young people with your DDs problem (he had a very severe stutter at the same age). I didn't realise he'd coached Gareth Gates until he turned up at our local in Norfolk one evening, ha! Really hope you find a solution.

natwebb79 Mon 03-Feb-14 20:44:47

Apologies, it's spelt 'Mcguire'.

Reincarnatedpig Mon 03-Feb-14 21:30:44

I was really angry when I saw that boy on a Educating Yorkshire, that he had just got to that age without intervention.
You can get machines that mimic the headphones thing but they are not a cure and can make it a great deal worse (dd wanted one but was warned off it).
I think the most effective treatment is speech therapy and the younger it starts the better. The MPC have a holistic approach involving the whole family which worked well for my child.

TheGhostOfBarryFairbrother Wed 05-Feb-14 06:56:29

Thank you all for your replies, it's so kind of you.

I have spoken to her English teacher who called me yesterday evening - she was very understanding and suggested that either my daughter sits it out completely, or, if she's comfortable to do so, they can do it together in a small room, just the two of them. At the moment she's opting for not doing it at all, but hopefully we can persuade her to give it a go.

We are going to try to watch the Educating Yorkshire episode together - I had heard about it but my DDs emotions are running high and I wasn't sure it would help. It sounds like a positive message so we'll try to watch it together.

We're being assessed at the MPC at Easter, and hopefully they can help. I honestly don't care how long it takes her to say something, but I just wish she had the confidence to say it anyway! I would be so happy if she felt able to make a phone call or buy a bus ticket!

Thank you again, you really reassured me that I'm not being too soft. You all know how horrible it is to see your child struggling so much.

Cailleach Wed 05-Feb-14 07:46:04

Bless her, of course you're not being soft. I'm surprised the school didn't think to offer this option for her without you having to ask, to be honest..

Reincarnatedpig Wed 05-Feb-14 10:17:34

Tbh I would be wary of the Educating Yorkshire episode. My dd was quite annoyed by it. Of course it helped the poor lad in the circumstances but it was upsetting to see his struggles and did nothing to help his stutter - just mask it temporarily. Perhaps try youtube to see if there. Is anything on the MPC instead.

louisea Wed 05-Feb-14 11:31:41

Good result. Unfortunately, we didn't have the option of not doing the Spoken Language. DTs teacher told us that although it is a separate grade, no grade meant no English Language GCSE. She is letting the boys do the test during today's lunch break in private. I've supplied a letter from our GP. One of the boys was in hospital just prior to Christmas when the stammer first started and the second one has suddenly deteriorated during the last 10 days due to stress. Their teacher was very understanding.

ladymariner Wed 05-Feb-14 13:06:37

Have you heard of The Starfish Project? My son was diagnosed with a severe stutter and at the age of 9 was told we had exhausted all available speech therapy and there was nothing else to be done for him.

Thank god we found Starfish. My ds went on his first course at the age of nearly 13 and he honestly hasn't looked back. He's 18 now, so confident and positive, you would never believe he was the same boy that wouldn't speak because he wasn't physically able to, who avoided social situations, who ran upstairs out of the way if the phone rang. I can hand on heart say without a doubt, Starfish changed our lives and I am grateful every single day that we found them.

They have a website and phone numbers to chat to someone about it. Please please get in touch with them. I don't want to think about what ds' lid would be like if he hadn't gone there. He still has his stammer but you wouldn't know now. He controls it rather that it controlling him.

I apologise for hijacking this thread, but I will shout from the rooftops about Starfish if I think it can help other people the way it has helped ds. Xx

ladymariner Wed 05-Feb-14 13:08:16

*ds' life, not lid!!!! blush

Reincarnatedpig Wed 05-Feb-14 13:35:01

Don't you have to pay for starfish though - Michael Palin Centre is NHS.

wordsmithsforever Wed 05-Feb-14 13:57:19

OP, so glad the teacher was understanding. Fantastic that your DD is an A student - unfortunately those kind of DC are often so hard on themselves about any issue. I'm sure she'll do really well.

ladymariner Wed 05-Feb-14 14:27:43

£250 for the first course, then free for ever afterwards. You can go back as often as you like, for life. Worthy every single penny x

Reincarnatedpig Wed 05-Feb-14 18:35:55

Sounds great lady mariner wish it had been around when DD was young. She was referred to MPC aged 5 after I quite literally harassed the head of SLT in this area. We were lucky to live in the right area for MPC. There was effectively no local SLT service in this part of West London.

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